Human Tissue Act

Currently the Human Tissue Act 2004 defines tissue as: "The HT Act regulates removal, storage and use of human tissue – defined as material that has come from a human body and consists of, or includes, human cells."

The authority has interpreted this to mean any sample that could possibly contain a remnant of a cell, whether whole or destroyed, including serum, urine, sputum (phlegm), CSF if collected for research or archiving purposes.

In fact, serum is created by spinning the cellular material out of the sample, and most urine samples have very cellular content. The majority of samples stored are serum samples, and they fall under the HTA. I would argue that such a wide definition of the HTA creates a huge, and unnecessary workload for research hospitals, with no demonstrable gain to the public.

Why is this idea important?

Currently the Human Tissue Act 2004 defines tissue as: "The HT Act regulates removal, storage and use of human tissue – defined as material that has come from a human body and consists of, or includes, human cells."

The authority has interpreted this to mean any sample that could possibly contain a remnant of a cell, whether whole or destroyed, including serum, urine, sputum (phlegm), CSF if collected for research or archiving purposes.

In fact, serum is created by spinning the cellular material out of the sample, and most urine samples have very cellular content. The majority of samples stored are serum samples, and they fall under the HTA. I would argue that such a wide definition of the HTA creates a huge, and unnecessary workload for research hospitals, with no demonstrable gain to the public.

Reform the Human Tissue Act to help medical research

The Human Tissue Act 2004 is a important legislation in concept but as enacted, is far too complex, engendering a major beaurocracy and pervading areas where there no conceivable public interest such as retention of urine and faeces. The beaurocracy and associated costs severely limit the tissues that can be collected from the living for research purposes.

Whilst keeping consent central, the Act should be rationalised to remove the requirement for tissue tracking from living patients, Consent forms should be replaced by a national "Treatment Request" forms which have a standard clause allowing patients to agree to the use of tissues surplus to diagnosic requirements in medical research.

Why is this idea important?

The Human Tissue Act 2004 is a important legislation in concept but as enacted, is far too complex, engendering a major beaurocracy and pervading areas where there no conceivable public interest such as retention of urine and faeces. The beaurocracy and associated costs severely limit the tissues that can be collected from the living for research purposes.

Whilst keeping consent central, the Act should be rationalised to remove the requirement for tissue tracking from living patients, Consent forms should be replaced by a national "Treatment Request" forms which have a standard clause allowing patients to agree to the use of tissues surplus to diagnosic requirements in medical research.