The latest news from the Human Tissue Authority
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Issue 74: May 2019

HTA news


Organ donation and transplantation

Post mortem


HTA News

The HTA blog has launched!

We are pleased to announce the launch of the HTA blog!

We have created the blog to offer a space for new and unique perspectives on key issues relating to our work and the sectors we regulate.

The new blog will allow us to:

  • Share articles from HTA staff, Authority Members, and those directly affected by our regulation.
  • Get closer and more interactive with those who have an interest in the HTA.
  • Offer you a way to share your views with us.

If you are already familiar with blogs then you will be aware that you have the ability to comment on each blog article. If you’re not, then now is a great time to get acquainted.

We look forward to your comments, feedback, and any questions you might have for us.

You can access the blog on the homepage of our website:

Keep up to date!

If you want to keep up to date with our latest blogs you will be able to sign up to follow the blog so you receive a notification of any new posts, or follow a specific blogpost to receive updates when new comments are added.

Our very first blog comes from our Director of Regulatory Delivery, Nicolette Harrison, who shares her thoughts on the HTA’s role and how we came about.

As always, we’d be keen to hear ideas from you as to which areas we might feature in upcoming posts. Please let us know of any suggestions for blog topics that would interest you.

Read our blog

2019 HTA public Authority meeting

Every year the HTA commits to holding one of its Board meetings in public to maintain transparency in how we operate. This year, our public Authority meeting took place on Thursday 9 May in central London.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the public to observe how the Authority functions, and ask our Board and Senior Management Team questions. We are pleased that the day was a great success. You can find our past Authority meeting papers and minutes on our website.

Have you taken our online tests?

In the last newsletter, we updated you on the launch of our online tests covering the core legislation that we regulate under:

  • the Human Tissue Act 2004;
  • the Human Tissue (Quality and Safety for Human Application) Regulations 2007; and
  • the Quality and Safety of Organs Intended for Transplantation Regulations 2012. 

We have had a really positive response on the tests and we’re grateful for the feedback we’ve received from you. For those in the Research sector, we have made some changes to some of the questions and answers in response to your comments. This continued feedback will allow us to make sure these tests are helpful, accurate, and relevant to your work.

If you haven’t tried the tests yet, their purpose are to provide you with a useful resource to test your knowledge of the key requirements of these laws.

The tests are open to all, taken anonymously, and will not count as an indicator of compliance against our standards.

Take the tests

HTA conference 2019 – save the date!

This year, the HTA conference will be taking place on Wednesday 6 November.

Like last year, the event will be held in central London and will be a full day event aimed at professionals working at our licensed establishments.

The conference will consist of a morning session featuring guest speakers and an afternoon workshop session that will provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss HTA-related topics with our staff and your peers.

We will be sharing details of the venue and how to register with you soon, so please check our website, TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn accounts for updates.

As in previous years, spaces at the event are limited, so it will operate on a first come, first served basis across each sector.

Upcoming events

Monday 3 June: Specialist Nurse for Organ Donation (SNOD) consent training 
The HTA will be participating in consent training for NHSBT’s SNOD training in Birmingham.

Thursday 6 June: Wales Transplantation Advisory Group (WTAG)
The HTA will be attending the June WTAG meeting. WTAG is a group that meets quarterly to discuss organ donation and transplantation in Wales, and includes representatives from the Welsh Government, NHSBT, as well as those who work in the sector in Wales.

21 June: HTA Histopathology Working Group (HWG) meeting
The HWG advisory group meets consider issues facing post-mortem sector establishments to inform the continued development of HTA policy affecting the sector and its overlap with other sectors. For more information on HWG, please visit our website.


Anatomy sector compliance report 2017/18

In October 2017, we completed the collection of compliance updates for the Anatomy sector.

We have now published an overview of the data we received. The data provides a snapshot of the key findings from the collection; identifying trends and themes we found from Anatomy sector submissions. 

We hope that this report will be useful to people working in the sector, as well as to members of the public who have an interest in body donation. You can view the publication by following the link below.
Find out more

HTA body donor cards

We first launched our body donor cards in 2016, following feedback from members of the public who felt it would be useful to have something similar to organ donor cards. We currently send body donor cards with our body, brain and tissue donation pack to potential body donors. We also give these to anyone who specifically requests one. 

The card can be carried by people who have given their consent to become a body donor. The card will indicate their wish to be a body donor. Potential donors can also give the name and contact details of the medical school where they have registered.

The card and accompanying information make it clear that the card:
  • Does not replace the consent process
    Anyone wanting to become a donor should still contact a medical school and sign a consent form, and
  • Does not guarantee that the medical school will be able to accept the donated body
    It only indicates the person has registered their wish to donate.  
There is also more information in the pack about why donations may not be accepted.

We recently sent out a survey to members of the public seeking their feedback on the cards and whether they still find them useful. Many responded that they would carry a card on their person, however, were unaware that they existed. In an effort to respond to the feedback we’ve received, the HTA will be promoting the cards through our online channels and in our public newsletter. 

Organ Donation and Transplantation

HTA consultation on Code F: Donation of solid organs and tissue for transplantation

The HTA will soon be launching a consultation on changes to our Code of Practice F: Donation of solid organs and tissue for transplantation.

We have amended our Code of Practice to reflect changes to the Human Tissue Act 2004, as a result of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019.

The revised code will provide advice and guidance to organ and tissue donation and transplant professionals in England on how the new ‘opt-out’ system will affect their practice from spring 2020.

To ensure you have your say on the amended Code of Practice, we intend to hold a consultation in June.

We will contact you directly with further updates and information on the consultation when it launches, and also in the next edition of the HTA e-newsletter. Further details will also be available on our website.


Opt-out organ donation: organs and tissues excluded from the new system consultation

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is currently consulting on which organs and tissues should be excluded from the new opt-out organ donation system which comes into force in England in spring 2020.

The government proposes that donation of certain organs and tissues will still need express consent, and wants the public’s views on this.

To find out more about the consultation and how to respond, please visit the DHSC website.

Find out more

NHS Blood and Transplant’s organ donation awareness campaign: ‘Pass It On’

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has launched a year-long national campaign, ‘Pass It On’, on the new opt-out organ donation system which comes into force across England from spring 2020.

The aim of the campaign is to increase public awareness and understanding of the new system. The campaign, developed with input from people from a range of ages and backgrounds and from across the country, aims to clearly communicate that the law is changing and the choices available, as well as encouraging people to make a decision and share this with their family.

The HTA fed into the campaign materials and messaging, and we will be supporting NHSBT in sharing key information to help generate public awareness on the forthcoming changes. In particular, we will be developing guidance aimed at the public on what their consent means under the new law.

To find out more about the new system and the ‘Pass It On’ campaign, please visit NHSBT’s website.

Find out more

Post Mortem

Our regulation of the Post Mortem sector webinar

To support Dying Matters Awareness week, our Regulation Managers hosted a webinar explaining our role to the public. The session explored how we make sure mortuaries operate to high standards to support those who are bereaved and are affected by a post-mortem examination. It also provided information on how we regulate body, organ and tissue donation.

Thank you to all who joined and participated on the day. If you didn’t get a chance to see the presentation live, you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Our regulation of the Post Mortem sector: 16 May 2019

Coronial investigations of stillbirths: consultation closes soon!

A reminder that the government’s consultation on proposals to give coroners the power to investigate all full-term stillbirths closes soon.

The government is looking at a number of proposals which aim to:
  • bring greater independence to the way stillbirths are investigated;
  • ensure transparency and enhance the involvement of bereaved parents in stillbirth investigation processes, including in the development of recommendations aimed at improving maternity care; and
  • effectively disseminate learning from investigations across the health system to help prevent future avoidable stillbirths.
The consultation seeks a wide range of views, from bereaved parents, the organisations that support them or that provide advice to pregnant women, researchers, health professionals and healthcare providers, as well as those working for coronial services.
Find out more

Academy of Medical Science’s Departure Lounge

In May, the Academy of Medical Sciences launched the Departure Lounge, an ambitious public engagement project on death and dying. The HTA participated in the project’s content advisory group, to advise on its development.

The Departure Lounge is a combination of a free pop-up shop in Lewisham Shopping Centre, an interactive website, and a digital campaign.

The pop up installation, modelled on an airport departure lounge, seeks to enable people to talk more openly about death and dying and explore what it means to have a good death. Visitors can explore the space, share their thoughts and talk to their guides, who are a diverse mix of researchers and professionals with experience of death and dying. The Academy has chosen Lewisham in south London as the base for The Departure Lounge as a busy, diverse area which is also the birthplace of the hospice movement.

The space is open to the public until Friday 7 June.

Find out more

Regulation of the Post Mortem sector 2017/2018: Shared learning

We have published a report analysing the information and intelligence we have on the Post Mortem sector since 2017. The report captures the themes and trends we have seen in compliance submissions, HTA Reportable Incidents (HTARIs), and inspection findings. It also gives advice on our key findings.

The report is aimed at all staff working in the Post Mortem sector, and those under their direction in the conduct of licensed activities, including Pathologists, Anatomical Pathology Technologists and those undertaking licensed activities in Maternity and A&E departments. The sector information and the learning gained from the investigation of HTARIs will provide a useful resource and may help mitigate the risk of incidents occurring.  

It will also be useful to other professional groups not subject to HTA regulation but involved in the provision of post mortem services, for example: coroners, coroner’s officers, funeral directors, and bereavement services. The report can be accessed on our website by following the link below:
Find out more

Updated HTA Reportable Incident (HTARI) guidance

Our regulation of the Post Mortem sector focuses on working with establishments to help them deliver services that are of high quality, and that have systems in place to mitigate the risks of incidents occurring.  

Licensed establishments in the Post Mortem sector are required to notify the HTA within five working days of a serious incident or ‘near miss’ occurring or being discovered. For HTA reporting purposes, a serious incident is anything that falls within the HTA Reportable Incident (HTARI) classifications. There are currently 17 different HTARI classifications.

Those relating to organs and tissue have been updated to include tissue blocks and slides. In addition, we have reviewed and updated the ‘further information’ section for some of the classifications.

The updated guidance for reporting and managing HTARIs also provides advice and guidance to establishments on processes to report and manage incidents.

We have also updated guidance on submitting HTARI reports through the HTA portal.

You can find both documents on our HTARI webpage by following the link below.

Find out more


Use of human samples in medical research

The MRC Regulatory Support Centre, in conjunction with the HTA, has recently updated their Research and human tissue legislation summaries.

They have also been working with the Information Commissioner's Office developing GDPR resources for the research sector.

Find out more
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