The latest news from the Human Tissue Authority
View this email in your browser

Welcome to the latest edition of the HTA newsletter                                                                         19 January 2016


Welcome to the first edition of the Human Tissue Authority's (HTA) public newsletter. 

This new newsletter is aimed at members of the public and those working in public-facing organisations who are affected by or interested in our work. It aims to give more information about who we are, what we do and how to get involved.

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'

January's newsletter contains information about the HTA, different types of donation, the HTA’s new public review panel and the recent Codes of Practice consultation. If you would like to see future issues cover different topics, please let us know.

About us

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) was set up in 2005, following public inquiries which began in the 1990s. These revealed how some hospitals had removed and stored tissue and organs without permission. 

The inquiries led to the creation of the Human Tissue Act 2004. The law states that appropriate and valid consent must be sought and given if body parts, organs, or tissue, from the living or the deceased are to be used for certain purposes.

The Act also set up the HTA to make sure that organisations comply with this new law. The HTA now oversees over 850 premises that remove, store and use human tissue and organs for research, medical treatment, transplantation, post-mortem examination, education and training, and public display. We also assess more than 1,200 organ and bone marrow donations from living people every year.

In 2015, we celebrated our tenth anniversary. To mark the occasion, we launched a publication, titled 'A decade of expertise'. It focuses on the positive impact we have had on the organisations we licence as well as the members of the public affected by our regulation. 

The publication highlights some of the milestones we have achieved since we were established in 2005, including:

  • processed 987 licence applications
  • carried out 1,350 inspections and over 1,500 site visits
  • reduced funding from government by 37% 
  • assessed 9,744 living organ donation cases (since 2006)

New body, brain and tissue donation pack

We have recently published an updated guide to donating your body, brain and/or tissue. The guide includes information on our role, how to donate, and what your donated body, brain or tissue may be used for. This might include education, training or research.

The HTA does not receive or use donated human tissue, instead we regulate the organisations that do. We make sure that donor wishes are respected and all donations are supported by informed consent. Our regulation also ensures that donated tissue is removed and stored in a safe and appropriate way. 

On our website we provide contact details for brain banks accepting donated brains and medical schools who accept donated bodies.

Please let us know what you think about this new information here.

Your consent to organ donation

On 1 December 2015, the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 came into force in Wales. We now oversee two different organ donation consent laws – one in Wales, and another in England and Northern Ireland. 

England and Northern Ireland
This system is generally referred to as 'opt-in' consent. This system applies to residents of England and Northern Ireland. This means that if you would like to donate your organs after death, you need to record your wishes. This is normally done through the NHS Organ Donor Register, but can be expressed in other ways, for example, by telling your family and friends. The HTA has published more information about consent and organ donation in England and Northern Ireland here.

The new 'opt-out' system creates a new type of legal consent in Wales called deemed consent. This applies to Welsh residents over the age of 18 who have lived in Wales for at least 12 months prior to their death. Unless a Welsh resident has expressed a wish to donate, or not to donate, it will be assumed that the person has consented to organ donation. 

More detailed information about the new law can be found on the Organ Donation Wales websiteThe HTA has also published more information about consent and organ donation in Wales. This information is also available in Welsh.

Join our public information review panel

Over the next year, we will be developing and reviewing our guidance for the public. To make sure we are providing the right information and that it is understandable, we are looking for volunteers to help us. We want your thoughts on what we publish:

  • what should we be providing information about?
  • does our guidance make sense? 
  • are there better ways of presenting our information? 
  • have we missed out the obvious and skipped straight to the details? 

You don’t need to have any experience in writing or editing. You just need to be willing to tell us what we can do better. If you are interested in taking part, or would like more information, please email us

HTA codes of practice consultation

As part of our 2015 consultation on our revised Codes of Practice, we held public meetings in September and October last year. Thank you to everyone who attended. We really appreciate your input into the Codes, as well as the HTA in general. 

We are currently updating the draft Codes to include the feedback we have received. The draft Codes and a summaries of the key changes to each Code are available on our website. The final Codes will be published this year.

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.


1: Welcome
2: About us
3: Body, brain & tissue
4: Consent & organ donation
5: Public review panel
6: Codes of practice update
7: Share our work
8: Ideas for next edition
Copyright © 2016 Human Tissue Authority, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list