Catalogue description Department of Health: Anatomy Inspectorate: Registers (Datasets)

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Details of JA 3
Reference: JA 3
Title: Department of Health: Anatomy Inspectorate: Registers (Datasets)

The Anatomy dataset is divided into two sections, corresponding to the tables for bodies donated for anatomical research and their disposal by the schools of anatomy. The tables contain the following information:

The dataset was used to control the processing of the returns of Forms AA2 and AA4, used for acceptance and disposal of bodies respectively, from the 25 anatomy offices. It handles the acceptance of human bodies for research purposes by 39 recognised anatomy medical schools at hospitals and universities in England and Wales and indicates the subsequent disposal of such bodies. The schools are divided into Provincial schools and London schools. These schools in turn have various 'satellite' schools which receive the bodies from these larger institutions. The provincial schools include Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford, Sheffield, Southampton. The city schools include Charing Cross Hospital, King's Hospital, Queen Mary and Westfield Hospital, Royal College of Surgeons, St George's Hospital, St Mary's Hospital, University College, London Hospital and Guys Hospital. The various satellite schools for London and the provinces are Brighton, Clwyd, St Andrew's, Keele, Loughborough, Norwich, Nutfield, Plymouth, Swindon, Oswestry and the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic (AECC).

The tables contain the following information:

  • Date of receipt of AA2 form recording acceptance of body by licensed school;
  • Full name, sex and age of deceased;
  • Date, cause and place of death;
  • Name and full address of licensed school where body is held and date received;
  • Name and full address of person authorising use of body;
  • Permission to retain parts;
  • Person who is licensed to sign for body;
  • Date place and method of disposal, whether by cremation or burial;
  • Licensed teacher, as well as first to fifth person authorised to sign for disposal of body;
  • Date AA4 form was signed recording disposal of body.

Reports produced include a list of all bodies being used for anatomical examination; all bodies exceeding the three year limit; bodies in use by a school and a list of bodies accepted by a school.

When the Human Tissue Act 2004 came into force on 1 September 2006, it repealed the Anatomy Act 1984 and brought about a number of significant changes. These changes included the cessation of licensing of teachers of anatomy and the abolition of the AA2/AA4 forms, and the associated anatomy database.

The datasets in this series are available to download. Links to individual datasets can be found at piece level.

Date: 1992-2003

Hardware: The database was created on an IBM-compatible PC.

Operating System: Originally Windows 3.1, but subsequently upgraded to later versions of Microsoft Windows.

Application Software: Originally contained in a set of Microsoft Excel (version not known) spreadsheets. Four were produced per year, divided into two categories; London and the Regions from 1992 until 1995. The information was converted to Microsoft Access, version 2.0 in 1995. Access was not customised for use for the Anatomy database for the first transfer but in 1999 the system was revised to include more tables, query forms, and reports. Other application software includes Crystal reports version 2.0 (database structure); Forefront Forehelp version 1.04 (on-line help generator); VB Tools version 4.0 - Customs control for date input format.

How data was originally captured and validated: On screen forms.

Related material:

For earlier (paper) registers see MH 74

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Former reference in The National Archives: CRDA/21
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English

Department of Health, Anatomy Inspectorate, 1988-

Physical description: 3 datasets and documentation
Restrictions on use: Fields relating to authoriser and authoriser's name and address in the Anatomy datasets are closed. The remaining fields and related documentation are open. The datasets are subject to Crown Copyright; copies may be made for private study and research only. Subject to the Data Protection Act.
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Immediate source of acquisition:

In 2010 the United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets

Custodial history: Originally transferred from the Department of Health. The United Kingdom National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) then held the datasets until 2010 when they were transferred to The National Archives (TNA).
Selection and destruction information: It was assumed that there was a legal obligation to preserve these records. This was erroneous. Regulations made in 1988, which accompanied the coming into force of the Anatomy Act 1984, laid down requirements on licence holders to retain records of whole bodies donated for anatomical examination for a period of 5 years beginning with the date of the disposal of the body (this should equate to a maximum period of 8 years from date of death since authority to retain a whole body was limited to 3 years). For body parts - for which there was no maximum period of retention - the regulations said that the licence holder should retain the records until the last part of the body was disposed of.
Accruals: Series is not accruing.
Unpublished finding aids:

Extent of documentation: 9 documents, Dates of creation of documents: 1994-2004

Administrative / biographical background:

The Anatomy dataset incorporates data compiled by the Anatomy Office division of the Department of Health in the process of carrying out the requirements of the 1984 Anatomy Act and 1988 regulations which relate to the acceptance and disposal of bodies donated for anatomical research. The datasets are an electronic version of hard copy registers, files and reports similar to those produced by Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy since 1832. The database was introduced in 1992, running parallel with paper registers until 1995. The 1832 Anatomy Act decreed that every Inspector was obliged to make a quarterly return to the Secretary of State or Chief Secretary of every deceased person's body which had been used for anatomical research 'distinguishing the sex, and as far as is known at the time, the name and age of each person whose body was so used.' A body could not be removed from the place where a person had died without a death certificate together with written or verbal proof that the body could be donated for anatomical research subject to the next of kin's consent. The same act also indicated that institutions receiving a body for anatomical research had to send a return to the Inspector providing details about the deceased as well as a certificate of the interment of the body. The 1961 Human Tissue Act allowed for the cremation of such bodies in accordance with the cremation acts of 1902 and 1952. The 1984 Act and the 1988 regulations enforce that every person granted a licence to practise anatomy must compile and keep records containing particulars relating to each anatomical specimen.

Bodies used for anatomical research are to be disposed of no later than three years after receipt unless exceptional circumstances prevail as provided under the 1984 Anatomy Act and the 1988 Anatomy Regulations.

The Anatomy database has, according to its users, resulted in a more effective time-saving system compared to the previous hard copy registers. The returns for the dataset from the anatomy offices on forms AA2 and AA4 are filed with the Health Department's Departmental Records Officer five years from record creation but the content is maintained indefinitely in the electronic Access database.

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