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Welcome to the latest edition of the HTA newsletter                                                                              October 2016

Obesity: the post-mortem

Since September, a documentary on the impact that obesity can have on a person’s health has been available on BBC iPlayer. The focus of the programme is on what happens inside the body, out of sight. They used a post-mortem examination to highlight the effect of obesity on a body’s vital organs.

The programme is aimed at a young audience, and includes talking heads of teenagers discussing their own health issues – the overall aim is to educate and encourage debate.

Our Head of Regulation, Caroline Browne, was involved in advising the production company. Caroline is the Head of Regulation for the Post-Mortem and Public Display sectors and she gave advice on our role as a regulator and on how best to maintain the privacy and dignity of the deceased.

You can read a blog by Caroline on our involvement with the programme here - Obesity: The Post Mortem - Caring for our dead; looking after ourselves.

You can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer here. You can also find a 'Behind the Scenes' clip featuring an interview with Caroline Browne here

Southampton General Hospital Open Day

Hospital open days are a great opportunity to find out more about the inner workings of your local hospital. In September, Southampton General Hospital hosted their open day. Over 5,000 visitors made the most of the opportunity to find out about the hospital and the services they provide. The open day included access and information about their mortuary. One of our staff members, Adam Whitaker was also on hand to answer questions.

As an HTA Regulation Manager, Adam’s role includes inspecting mortuaries in England, Northern Ireland and Wales. All hospital and local authority mortuaries where post-mortem examinations take place are licensed and inspected by us. Our Regulation Managers assess mortuaries against our licensing Standards to make sure human tissue is used safely, ethically, and with proper consent.

Adam said, “we often visit mortuaries to make sure they comply with the law and the HTA’s Standards. Meeting and talking to mortuary staff is an essential part and helps us learn how the establishment operates. The Southampton General Hospital open day was an excellent opportunity for the public to talk with the mortuary staff about their work.  This includes how they care for the deceased.

Hearing questions from the public was very interesting. Many people were keen to learn how the mortuary operates, and how our regulation relates to their work.

You can find out more information about post-mortem examinations and our role in regulating mortuaries on our website.

While we do not regulate Coroner’s, we do provide information on how our work is linked.

Guide for the public on post-mortem scanning

In October, we published a brief guide about post mortem examinations which do not require the body to be opened. These post-mortem examinations use the same types of imaging equipment used to examine the living, referred to as cross-sectional imaging.

You can access the guide here.

The guide was produced with input from the Histopathology Working Group, as well as the Public Information Review Panel. This panel is made of volunteers, who help us to improve our information for the public. For information on joining, see below.

Baby Loss Awareness Week

Baby Loss Awareness Week took place from 9 to 15 October. To mark the week, the Backbench Committee of the House Commons held a debate. The debate was informed by the experiences of member, constituents and a public discussion held on Twitter earlier in week.

The debate covered improvements to bereavement services, official recognition of miscarriages and sensitive handling of pregnancy remains.

Sensitive handling is an area where we have issued guidance for professionals previously. We are also contributing to ongoing work in this area. Caroline Browne, Head of Regulation for the Post-Mortem and Public Display sectors is part of the National Cremation Working Group. The aim of this group is to improve cremation legislation and practice. One of their first priorities is the regulation of the cremation of foetuses of less than 24 weeks’ gestation.


World Marrow Donor Day 

World Marrow Donor Day, held on September 17, is an awareness day for blood stem cell, marrow and cord blood registries. This year, the day also commemorated two anniversaries related to bone marrow and stem cell donation.

In September, the British Bone Marrow Registry (BBMR) celebrated its 30th anniversary. The BBMR holds details of stem cell donors and cord blood donations from England, Scotland, North Wales and Northern Ireland. It is responsible for recruiting, testing and registering blood donors who volunteer to become stem cell donors. It is also part of an international network, performing searches around the world to find suitable stem cell donors.

September also marked the 20th anniversary of the NHS cord blood bank. The NHS cord blood bank receives voluntary donations for patients in need of an unrelated cord blood transplant. As with the BBMR, donations can help patients both in the UK or anywhere in the world.

Through the BBMR and the NHS cord blood bank, 3,645 patients in more than 40 countries have received potentially lifesaving bone marrow and stem cell transplants.
You can find more information about donation below:

The HTA wants to hear from you! 

We are committed to involving the public in our work. In doing so, we aim to help raise awareness of our role and to ensure there is confidence in our work. There are several ways you can be involved, for example by reviewing our new processes, policies, or publications aimed at the public. If you are interested in, and would like to contribute to our work, please let us know.

National Pathology Week 7-13 November

National Pathology Week is a celebration of pathology and the important contribution pathologists make to healthcare. The theme of the week is 'Pathology: prevention, diagnosis, treatment’.

Throughout the week, pathologists and laboratory scientists will deliver a variety of events. The aim of these events is to improve public awareness and understanding of the science behind the cure.

A full list of events is available on the Royal College of Pathologists’ website.

8 November - From Ancient Greece to modern London: two thousand years of post-mortem examinations

With the aid of a live model, Dr Suzy Lishman will describe what a modern post mortem involves. Dr Lishman will show what examination of the body after death can reveal and how the process has changed over the centuries. Attendees will also have the chance to examine some of the instruments used.

11 November - Your Body, Your Consent

This event, aimed at students, which introduce several ethical issues, including:
  • consent for autopsies
  • tissue donation
  • medical research involving babies and children
  • commercialisation of human tissue
  • legislation
  • display of human tissue, and
  • saviour siblings.
Students will consider different perspectives on these ethical issues which have been taken from a range of sources. For example, the public, pathologists, other medical professionals, legislative bodies and the media.

Members of our Authority have volunteered to be part of this event  and are looking forward to working with RCPath and the students.

Upcoming Events

22 November – 20 May 2017 - Transplant and Life
Artists John Wynne and Tim Wainwright have worked with patients at the Royal Free and Harefield hospitals to bring the sights and sounds of patients into the museum. This exhibition gives voice to the patient experience and raises awareness of the importance of transplantation and the challenges surrounding it.

6 December - A Change of Heart: The history and current status of heart transplantation
Christiaan Barnard performed the first human heart transplant in Cape Town in 1967. However, it was the American Norman Shumway who deserves credit for establishing it as a practical treatment for patients with advanced heart failure. The British programme of transplantation was started at Papworth Hospital in 1979 and with the advent of better drugs for treating rejection, Papworth became one of the pre-eminent centres for heart and lung transplantation. Sir Terence English will examine the history of this life-changing procedure through to its current practice today.

Connect with us on social media!

It is now even easier to stay in touch with us and keep up-to-date with all our latest news, events and updates.

You can do this by joining us on social media.

Follow us on  Twitter  for real-time sector and regulatory updates, and information.

Stay informed with what is happening across the organisation by becoming a fan of our Facebook page. Share our pages and engage with us to learn more about what we do.

Join our LinkedIn professional network to view our latest publications. Browse our latest job opportunities, and share them with your connections.

Share our work

If you have friends or colleagues, or work with groups that you think would be interested in our work, please share our newsletter with them. Alternatively, they can sign up  to receive the newsletter directly on our website, just click that you are 'a member of the public'

What would you like to see in the next issue?

We want to make sure our e-newsletter is practically useful to those who are interested in our work. With that in mind, we would be happy to receive suggestions for future items and articles. Please email us to let us know your comments and suggestions.


Obesity: the post-mortem

Southampton General Hospital Open Day

Guide for the public on post-mortem scanning

Baby Loss Awareness Week

World Marrow Donor Day

The HTA wants to hear from you!

National Pathology week

Upcoming events
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