The HTA- who, what, why & how

The Human Tissue Act 2004 was introduced off the back of a number of scandals in the UK. The main scandal that people speak of in reference to this is the Alder Hey organs scandal from 1988 to 1995 where organs and tissue of a number of children were held without permission or consent from their parents. More can be seen about the scandal here. This was alongside a number of other issues which meant something had to change in the country. It is important to note here that this act applies only to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Scotland have a similar but different legislation of their own.

The idea behind this change in legislation was to aid the public’s confidence in the system by aiming to ‘regulate the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue’. This also introduced a governing body known as the Human Tissue Authority (HTA). The HTA’s role is to enforce the polices and legislation by providing guidance and issuing licenses to institutions who have contact with human tissue in a number of environments.

The licenses they issue depend of what kind of institution they are licensing. It varies from mortuaries like where I work where a license will be issued to conduct post-mortem examinations, to museums like Bart’s Pathology Museum who will be licensed to display human tissue for research and study. Their work is important, and is enforced by inspections.

Such an inspection is occurring tomorrow and Thursday where I work. Representatives of the HTA will be coming to visit to ensure that we at the mortuary are compliant with their guidelines, are fit for work and have practices that fit with the manner of our license. More about the inspections can be found on their website here.

If you would like to know more about the HTA yourself, a good place to start are their guides for the public which are https://www.hta.gov.uk/guidance-public/public-guides-hta-codes-practice

I’m excited to see what they do, how they go about it and to learn more about the HTA from them. I feel like I have read a lot about them on their website but seeing it for myself will be the real learning experience. Hope you are all having a good week so far and thank you for reading!

MG x

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