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Health minister apologises for ‘dreadful distress’ from mortuary failings

21 Mar 2024 3 minute read
The Grange University Hospital. Picture: Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Chris Haines ICNN Senedd reporter

Wales’ health minister apologised for the dreadful distress inflicted on grieving families after a second case of a hospital mortuary releasing the wrong body.

During health questions in the Senedd, Eluned Morgan faced calls for an independent public inquiry into the two mix-ups at the Grange University Hospital in Cwmbran.

She said Aneurin Bevan University Health Board has taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, with an audit conducted to confirm the identity of all the bodies it holds.

“Dreadful distress”

Baroness Morgan told the meeting on March 20: “I’m very sorry for the dreadful distress that has been inflicted on these families.”

Health Minister Eluned Morgan. Photo Welsh Government

She emphasised that they are very rare errors , saying: “We’ve put the health board under a lot of pressure to make sure they are responding in the appropriate way.

‘Regrettable pattern’

Delyth Jewell, Plaid Cymru’s deputy leader, called for assurances that they were two isolated incidents and not part of a “more regrettable pattern that really can’t be repeated again”.

The South Wales East MS asked whether a public inquiry should be held to ensure lessons are learned, so other families do not have to go through such distress and trauma.

She said: “What went wrong needs to be reported publicly, not to point a finger – because I can’t imagine they could have done something like this deliberately – but to ascertain whether other incidents could have happened.

“If two incidents happen, then what’s to say it might not have happened more than that?”

In potentially her last question time as health minister pending a looming cabinet reshuffle, Baroness Morgan said both mistakes are thought to have occurred in the same manner.

She added: “I know the health board is in touch with the families concerned, and we remain in close contact with the health board regarding its investigations and its actions.”


Natasha Asghar urged the health minister to launch an independent inquiry to get to the bottom of the devastating incidents.

Natasha Asghar MS

The Conservative MS, who also represents South Wales East, told the chamber: “This isn’t the first time a truly distressing incident like this has taken place at the Grange.

“Genuinely, my thoughts are with those who have been affected by this. 

“When the first incident came to light just before Christmas, we were told by the health board that it was, and I quote, ‘confident that this is down to human error in an isolated case’.

“Sadly, it’s clearly not an isolated case.”

‘Faith and confidence’

She added: “It’s vital we see action from the Welsh Government and we have to see it now.

“How can we expect residents to have faith and confidence in our health boards when upsetting incidents like this occur not once but twice? 

Baroness Morgan told Ms Asghar the health board is conducting its own audit and inquiry.

She said: “The health board I know has been in touch with the Human Tissue Authority and Healthcare Inspectorate Wales regarding these incidents, and my officials and the NHS executive remain in close contact with the health board.”

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