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Public Inquiry Needed On Body Parts

Public Inquiry Needed To Shake Out Body Part Skeletons

Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley today renewed her call for a public inquiry into past hospital practices of taking and storing body parts from dead people without informed consent from their families.

"The Minister of Health admitted yesterday that she was kept in the dark about the Green Lane hospital collection of 1300 baby hearts until Friday, despite a year-long investigation by the Ministry of Health into the holding of body parts.

"To me, clearly, the Ministry has been actively withholding this information," she said.

"Last night news broke that there is a similar collection in Christchurch medical school. Mrs King must urgently initiate a public inquiry, to provide full answers for distraught families wondering whether they buried their dead babies and family members with all their body parts." Ms Kedgley said the first questions should be whether other hospitals or medical schools are holding similar body parts collected without consent, and whether body parts have been taken without informed consent since the Cartwright inquiry, 14 years ago.

"Mrs King should immediately make public the responses from district health boards last year when they were asked about whether they had any collections of body parts without informed consent."

Ms Kedgley said a culture of secrecy and evasiveness still surrounds the collecting and disposing of body parts by hospitals.

"Given this culture a public inquiry is essential," she said. "There are serious questions to be asked about why and how Green Lane still has no formal practice for getting informed consent about the removal and collection of body parts, despite legislation passed six years ago designed to achieve just that. And what about other hospitals around the country?"

Ms Kedgley said the public also deserved answers about how doctors and officials got away with reassuring the public last March that there were no skeletons in the cupboard here, after a similar scandal erupted in Britain over unauthorised removal and storage of body parts.

Ends

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