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Police investigate alleged harvesting of body parts at Birmingham private hospital

The alleged harvesting of body parts by an orthopaedic surgeon at a Birmingham private hospital is being investigated by police, it is reported by The Independent.

30 September 2020

West Mercia Police confirmed to the newspaper that they are investigating an allegation of breach of statutory licensing requirements under the Human Tissue Act 2004 following a referral from the Human Tissue Authority.
 
It is reported that thousands of patients may have been involved.
 
The Independent reports that it has seen a leaked internal report which states that surgeon Derek McMinn harvested the bones of patients removed during hip surgery at the BMI Edgbaston Hospital.
 
Staff at the hospital reportedly knew about and assisted in the collection and storage of joints.
 
The hospital had been alerted to its responsibilities under the Human Tissue Act following an audit between 2010 and 2015 which identified the storage of femoral heads, the Independent reports.
 
The newspaper says that BMI Healthcare’s parent company Circle Health says patients had not been informed because no significant harm had taken place.
 
The Care Quality Commission has told The Independent that it had not been aware of the size of the issue. The BMI report suggests at least 5,224 samples had been taken, says the Independent.
 
Mr McMinn remains registered to practise, although the General Medical Council has been informed about BMI, says the Independent.
 
McMinn also reported to have operated on patients at Spire Healthcare’s Little Aston Hospital in Birmingham.
 
It is reported that the bones were being collected for research in Mr McMinn’s retirement.
 
Leigh Day head of clinical negligence Suzanne White responded to the allegations. She said:
 
“These allegations are staggering. It is reported that more than 5,000 patients have been affected by this industrial scale harvesting of organs.
 
“If proven, this is a degrading treatment of patients which is hard to contemplate, that a surgeon would consider keeping for his private research his patients’ body parts without their consent and that staff would collude with these actions.
 
“Once more this highlights why, in the wake of the Paterson Inquiry, there is an urgent need to raise and guarantee safety standards in the private clinical care sector.”

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