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17/06/14 09:05

Bonomy report published

64 recommendations to improve policy and practice.

The Scottish Government has today published the report from the Infant Cremation Commission, chaired by Lord Bonomy, into policies and practices surrounding infant cremation in Scotland.

The report makes 64 recommendations, which the Public Health Minister Michael Matheson will respond in a statement to the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, subject to parliamentary approval.

Mr Matheson said: “I’d like to thank Lord Bonomy and all the members of the Infant Cremation Commission for thoroughly and extensively examining this issue of such considerable national concern.

“I’d also like to thank all those who participated in providing information to the Commission, and in particular the parents who have played a particularly important role.

“I intend to give a statement to Parliament later this afternoon, once members have had an opportunity to consider the report, outlining how the government plans to respond and take forward the recommendations made by Lord Bonomy.”

Background

The report is available on the Scottish Government website: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/06/8342

Text of Letter from the Rt Hon. Lord Bonomy to Michael Matheson, Minister for Public Health

12 June 2014

Dear Mr Matheson,

NOTIFICATION OF COMPLETION OF THE REPORT OF THE INFANT CREMATION COMMISSION

In my capacity as Chair I am pleased to hand over to you the completed Report of the Infant Cremation Commission.

The role of the Commission has been to examine the policies, practice and legislation related to the cremation of infants in Scotland and, critically, to provide recommendations for the future which will ensure that no-one in Scotland ever again has to suffer the distresses that were highlighted by the Mortonhall Investigation Report. The Report contains 64 recommendations, including a number for Scottish Government as well as those more directly involved in the cremation of babies and infants, primarily the NHS, Funeral Directors and Cremation Authorities.

What the Commission have said about Aberdeen City Council must now be qualified in light of allegations made, immediately before finalisation of the Report, that, contrary to the ethical code followed by Cremation Authorities, babies were cremated along with adults and that was the real reason for the absence of ashes in the past at Hazlehead Crematorium. That news has come as yet another blow to many parents. However, for the moment it is no more than an allegation into which inquiries, which may take some time, must be made.

Meanwhile, the Commission do not consider that that should hold up publication of the Report which contains many positive recommendations designed to improve the practices surrounding baby and infant cremation, which should be implemented sooner rather than later in the best interests of all who are affected by baby and infant bereavement and in the general public interest. The Report suggests a way in which the recommendations may be taken forward, but does not constrain anyone or any organisation from taking any necessary actions in the meantime.

I would also like to record the willingness of the Commission Members to work together to achieve consensus on the Report’s conclusions, and also my indebtedness to every individual and organisation that responded to the many queries and requests issued by the Commission in the course of its work. This is particularly true in the case of those parents who shared their experiences with me on several occasions.

It is my hope that everyone will continue to work quickly and collaboratively to achieve the desired ends.

Yours sincerely

The Rt Hon. Lord Bonomy