The terms of reference of the post mortem inquiry require it to review post mortem policy, practice and procedure in all hospitals in the State since 1970, with particular reference to organ removal, retention, storage and disposal. The inquiry is also mandated to examine any arrangements with pharmaceutical companies regarding retained organs including pituitary glands. The chairman has confirmed that the inquiry has received considerable co-operation from each of the hospitals with which it is dealing and that the inquiry's non-statutory nature has not thus far significantly hampered its substantive work.
The chairman has indicated that she will provide a report on paediatric hospitals in December 2004. Ongoing consultations are taking place with the inquiry regarding the other elements of its remit, having regard to the Government decision that the inquiry should conclude by 31 March next. Pending receipt of the chairman's report, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the actions of specific pharmaceutical companies.
I am advised that individual hospitals have adopted differing policies for contacting next of kin of deceased persons whose organs were retained.
At the end of August 2004, the inquiry had incurred direct expenditure of €11,577,610. This includes fees to the inquiry's legal team and costs associated with the establishment and rental and administration of the inquiry office. My Department has also provided funding to the Eastern Regional Health Authority and Parents for Justice in respect of inquiry — related expenditure amounting to €6,780,424. This brings the total expenditure relating to the inquiry to the end of August 2004 to €18.358 million.
The persons who wrote to the Deputy may wish to make contact with the relevant hospital for further details on the particular post-mortem that affects them.