The bodies of at least 15,500 unborn babies have been incinerated over the past two years, with some of them used to generate power to heat NHS hospitals, a new investigation has revealed.
The report for Channel 4‘s ‘Dispatches’ programme, which airs tonight, also found that parents who lose children early on in pregnancy are treated without compassion, and often have no say in what happens to the remains.
The Telegraph reports that health minister Dr Dan Poulter said the practice was “totally unacceptable”, and the Department for Health issued an instant ban.
According to the report, Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation in a ‘waste to energy’ plant, informing the mothers that the remains had been ‘cremated’.
Another facility operated by a private contractor at Ipswich Hospital incinerated 1,101 foetuses between 2011 and 2013. Ipswich Hospital said that it disposes of its own remains by cremation and that company that runs the incinerator had brought in the remains from other hospitals.
A total of ten NHS trusts admitted to burning foetal remains alongside general rubbish, with two using them to generate power.
Dr Poulter said: “While the vast majority of hospitals are acting in the appropriate way, that must be the case for all hospitals and the Human Tissue Authority has now been asked to ensure that it acts on this issue without delay.”
Since the information was released, NHS Medical Director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has written to all NHS trusts, telling them the practice must stop immediately.
The documentary, ‘Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache’, airs tonight on Channel 4 at 8pm GMT