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Remains of unborn children incinerated to heat hospitals

Addenbrooke’s is one of the hospitals named in the Channel 4 programme (PA)

The bodies of thousands of unborn babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some used for heating hospitals, an investigation has found.

Following a documentary by Channel 4, 10 NHS trusts admitted burning the remains of unborn babies along with other waste, and two more trusts admitted to adding the bodies of unborn children, lost through abortion or miscarriage, to “waste-to-energy” plants which generate power for heat.

Following the disclosure, the Department of Health issued a complete ban on the practice and the health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, said that the incidents were “totally unacceptable”.

According to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, at least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years.

At Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, the remains of 797 unborn babies who died at 13 weeks were destroyed at their “waste to energy plant”.

The mothers were informed that their children had been cremated.

Prof Sir Mike Richards, Chief Inspector of Hospitals, said: “I am disappointed trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families.

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us.

“We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if required.”

The Dispatches programme, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, will air at 8pm this evening on Channel 4.