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MOH Welcomes ADHB Reports into Heart Registry


Ministry of Health Welcomes ADHB Reports into Heart Registry and handling of human body parts

Action being undertaken by the Auckland District Health Board in the wake of two reports into the way human body parts are stored and handled is strongly supported by the Ministry of Health, spokesperson Sandy Dawson said today.

The two released reports - one into consent to store hearts at the Greenlane Heart Registry, and a second into the handling of body parts - contain recommendations for both the Auckland DHB and the Ministry of Health.

"We are pleased at the way the Auckland DHB intends to approach families and whanau who may be affected by the storage of hearts at the Greenlane registry without consent," said Dr Dawson, Chief Clinical Advisor for health services.

"The report into this highlights the negative experiences seen overseas from health authorities directly approaching families, so the campaign being prepared is highly appropriate."

The second report by the Auckland DHB is particularly relevant to a review currently being undertaken by the Ministry. It contains a number of recommendations proposing changes to the Human Tissue Act 1964.

"The issues highlighted had been identified by the Ministry before the inquiry was ordered and will be fed into an overall review of the human tissue legislation and regulatory framework," said Dr Dawson.

The consultation document as a result of this review will be made available in January 2003.

In the meantime the Ministry will be in touch with other District Health Boards, asking them to check that their procedures for handling human body parts and getting informed consent are appropriate. It will also be talking to medical schools to ensure adequate training is in place for doctors.

Background:

In January this year, the Ministry of Health began reviewing the legislation and regulatory framework governing the collection, storage, transport, use and disposal of bodies, body parts, organs, tissues and specimens intended for therapeutic, research and teaching purposes.

The review team incorporates members from departments across the Ministry, including Clinical Services, MedSafe, Public Health, Health Legal and the Maori Health Directorate.

They are considering how the legislation needs updating to take into account the current medical and research environment and in particular to address current issues about the donation of bodies, body parts, organs, tissues and specimens. It also includes a revision of current safety practices in the handling of organs and tissue, and the provisions governing the retention of human samples.

A draft consultation document is expected to be before Cabinet in December this year, with the release of the consultation document in January 2003. A draft bill should then go to Cabinet in August next year with the introduction of the Human Tissues Bill in the house in 2004.


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