A recent investigation has revealed that about 15,000 miscarried and aborted fetuses were incinerated by hospitals in the United Kingdom to heat buildings.
The remains of the fetuses were termed "clinical waste" and incinerated, while some were used in "waste-to-energy" systems in order to generate heat. The investigation was carried out by Channel 4's award-winning investigative program 'Dispatches'.
The investigation data shows that in last two years, 27 National Health Service (NHS) trusts practiced the act, out of which 10 NHS trusts have admitted burning the fetal remains with the garbage.
Soon after the program was aired on Sunday, the Department of Health has issued a prohibition on the practice across the UK.
Health minister Dr. Dan Poulter said that the issue is unacceptable and has asked the Human Tissue Authority to take necessary measures to prevent the act. He also noted that majority of the British hospitals follow appropriate procedures to dispose fetal remains.
Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge incinerated 797 fetuses to generate heat. In a similar case, a private contractor working at Ipswich Hospital incinerated 1,100 fetuses, reported the Medical Daily.
Mothers were allegedly told by the hospital authorities that the fetal remains were cremated.
The improper disposal of fetuses in British hospitals "breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services," Poulter said.
Hospitals should ideally provide trained staff to consult patients concerning their desire about the disposal of fetuses.
"The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of foetal remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected," a spokesperson for Cambridge University Hospital told The Telegraph.