Freedom Of Information Request Reveals Walsall Manor Hospital Retention Scandal

Enquiry Reveals Remains of 86 unborn babies from abortions and miscarriages Were Kept


Managers at Walsall Manor Hospital have launched a full investigation after it was revealed the remains of 86 unborn babies, which should have been cremated within months, were kept at the hospital for up to four years.

The storage of fetal remains were revealed under a Freedom of Information request by Channel 4 Dispatches.

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust blamed an administrative error and said only five women will be contacted - because records indicate they would want to be informed. The other 81 women will not be contacted in order to avoid 'widespread distress'.

Two of the 86 cases date back to 2010, with another two in 2011, a total of 30 in 2012 and then 52 up to December 2013.

In 73 cases they belonged to foetuses under 12-weeks-old with with the remaining 13 being under 21 weeks.

Richard Kirby, chief executive of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust which runs the hospital, has apologised.

He said: “It is clear that in some cases the trust has kept remains following terminations and miscarriages for longer than we should have done.

“I would like to apologise to each and every patient who has been affected by this and would like to re-assure anyone who might be using our services now or in the future of our dedication in ensuring that this situation does not arise again.

“We are confident we have contacted everyone we need to in relation to this issue. There are five of the 86 who we think we should contact.

“For the others, the feel of all the advice we have taken and all the work we have done, we risk causing more distress by making contact. We will now be proceeding to arrange the cremations in line with our standard policy.”

Expert Opinion
“These findings at Walsall Manor Hospital are deeply concerning and come only weeks after we were instructed by five concerned families in the Birmingham region who had learnt their children’s organs and tissue samples had been kept at a mortuary without their permission for up to 15 years.

“The trauma of losing a baby, regardless of the circumstances, is horrendous for any parent to go through and those affected by this latest scandal will no doubt be reliving their ordeals, years after they hoped they had laid their loss to rest.

“All of those affected in Walsall deserve to know why the foetuses were kept, whether they were used for a specific purpose without consent and what measures will be implemented to ensure the same scandal cannot happen again.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner