Three years ago the union joined those calling for a public inquiry into the 2007 revelations that from the early 1960s until the early 1990s organs were removed from former radiation workers who had died from cancer, for use in medical research, in some instances without family consent.
Prospect Deputy General Secretary Mike Clancy said: “Prospect was invited, along with other stakeholders, to contribute evidence to the inquiry. We consulted relevant reps and checked back in our records. We found that neither Prospect, nor its predecessor IPMS, had any knowledge of, or involvement in, the cases under investigation. However, our thoughts are with the affected families, for whom this is difficult and upsetting.
“Nobody would question the value of medical research into potential health risks to the industry’s employees and close neighbours. Such research is clearly in the public interest and there is nothing remotely sinister about it. But that does not in any way justify the removal of tissue without appropriate consent.”
The Human Tissue Act 2004 established the fundamental principle of consent. It was introduced after the Alder Hey inquiry, also chaired by Redfern, which investigated the retention of the hearts of children who died after surgery at Bristol Royal Infirmary.
Clancy said: “Open and transparent disclosure, and the strictest regulation on matters of health and safety, are essential to the ethos of a modern civil nuclear industry, and vital to ensure public confidence. The Redfern inquiry was conducted in that spirit.
“There have clearly been historic errors of judgement, but we live in different times today. Redfern’s inquiry, and the Human Tissue Act, provide the safeguards to prevent a repeat of these mistakes. This is a difficult day for those affected. Hopefully, finding out what really happened will bring a measure of closure. Now they need time and space to grieve in peace.”