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Anatomy facilities

My organisation would like to establish a facility for anatomy teaching, training and research. What are the requirements for obtaining authorisation for the facility?

Under the Anatomy Act 1977 only a person who holds a licence to practice anatomy (or their delegates) may conduct anatomical examinations.

A person who is in charge of conducting anatomical examinations at an educational, medical or research facility may apply in writing to the Secretary, NSW Health for a licence. There is no specific application form; however the application must include the proposed licensee(s), facility location, people who will have access to the facility, security for the facility, proposed activities, process for accessing, registering and disposing of bodies / body parts and ethics approval (where relevant). PD2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW contains an example register.

On receipt of the written application, the NSW Ministry of Health will advise the local Anatomy Inspector to contact the applicant to arrange an inspection. The inspection will be conducted by the local Anatomy Inspector. The inspection involves audit of the physical environment of the facility and a review of the policies and procedures of the facility and the register of specimens. Detailed information on the inspection process is available in attachment 3 of PD2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

On completion, the inspection report is forwarded to the NSW Ministry of Health with recommendations. Depending on the report outcome a licence may be issued with standard or additional conditions, or may not be issued. Generally a licence is valid for 2 years subject to satisfactory annual inspections.

The person who holds the anatomy license at our facility is leaving. Do we need to apply for a new license?

The Secretary, NSW Health must be notified in writing of any change to the designated licence holder of an institution. A re-issue of a licence can be requested at any time to accurately reflect changes to staff or duties within the anatomical facility. A re-issue of a licence should be considered when the current licence holder will be absent from their regular duties for a period of time greater than 3 months.

Our anatomy license is about to expire. Can we apply for an extension?

Licence holders wishing to renew a licence are required to submit an application to the Secretary, NSW Health before expiration of their current licence. Licence holders should ensure that they submit their application 3 months before their current licence expires.

I hold an anatomy licence in NSW and would like to use a body from an anatomical licence holder in another Australian state/territory. What do I need to do?

Bodies or tissues acquired from interstate facilities must meet the consent standards of the NSW Anatomy Act 1977 and all relevant policy requirements outlined in PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

Applicants who source tissue from interstate institutions are responsible for obtaining documentation from the supplying institution that shows that the acquired tissue meets these standards.

All documentation and details of bodies /tissues acquired from overseas institutions must be added to the anatomy register and be available for audit by the Anatomy Inspector.

I hold an anatomy licence in NSW and would like to use a body or human tissue from another NSW anatomy licence holder. What do I need to do?

NSW anatomy licence holders can transfer bodies to other NSW anatomy licence holders without prior approval from an Anatomy Inspector. The details of the transfer must be entered into the anatomy register and be available for audit by the Anatomy Inspector.

However a licence holder cannot transfer the body, if they have reason to believe that to do so would be contrary to the wishes of the deceased or the senior available next of kin of the deceased.

I have the body of a child and I have consent to use it for anatomical examination. Can I use it?

If the body of the child is not that of a child who was in the care of the state, you may use the body for anatomical examination. However the use of a body is subject to any specific conditions that the donor may have given as part of their consent. For example, parents may donate the body of their stillborn child to a program with the condition that it is to be used specifically for the purpose of teaching midwifery students.

A person must not authorise the anatomical examination of the body of a child if the child was, immediately before his or her death, in the care of the State.

I have an anatomy licence. Can I store human and animal tissue for anatomical examination in the same place?

NSW Health has allowed human and animal anatomical material to be stored and used within the same licensed premises as long as the following conditions are met and observed and the Anatomy Inspector for the particular premises is satisfied that the facility can meet these requirements:

  • the animal tissue is stored separately to the human tissue
  • the animal tissues are disposed of separately to the human tissue
  • appropriate infection control policies are in place and infection control is maintained at all times.

I would like to use a body or tissues from a donated body from an overseas institution for anatomical examination. What do I need to do?

Bodies or tissue acquired from international institutions must meet the consent and other provisions of the NSW Anatomy Act 1977 and the relevant policy requirements outlined in PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

Applicants who source bodies/ tissue from overseas are responsible for obtaining documentation from the supplying institution that shows that the bodies/tissue meets the NSW standards. All documentation and details of bodies /tissues acquired from overseas institutions must be added to the anatomy register and available for audit by the Anatomy Inspector.

For how long can I retain a body?

A body can be retained for a maximum of 4 years. An application may be made for an Anatomy Inspector to authorise the retention of a body for an additional 4 years. The body must be disposed of within 8 years from the date of death of the deceased.

Is there a time limit for disposal of tissue?

The time limit for retention of tissue is similar to the retention of a body, however if there is written consent by the deceased for permanent retention of tissue, then there is no need to dispose of the tissue. Where consent to permanent retention of tissues has not been given and the wishes of the deceased are unknown, the senior available next of kin may consent in writing to permanent retention of tissues.

If there is either no consent for permanent retention or the senior next of kin does not give consent then the tissue must be disposed of within the timeframes given above.

This requirement for disposal does not apply to the retention of small samples of tissue in the form of tissue blocks and slides.

What is an inspection audit?

Inspection audits consider the physical environment of the facility, review the policy and procedure protocols of the facility, and the register of specimens. For more information on the inspection audit see PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

How frequently are licensed anatomy facilities inspected?

Each licensed anatomy facility in NSW is inspected annually. In general facilities are notified of the time of the inspection; however, Anatomy Inspectors can also inspect a licensed premise at any time.

What do Anatomy Inspectors look for when undertaking site inspections?

Anatomy Inspector’s check for compliance with the standards outlined in the inspection audit guidelines (see PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW) and with the requirements of the Anatomy Act 1977. If a previous licence has been granted they will also look at compliance with any previous licence conditions.

Are anatomy facilities advised of the Anatomy Inspector’s findings?

Yes. After each inspection a report is sent to the facility that may include recommendations to ensure compliance with licence conditions and/or the requirements of the Anatomy Act 1977. The report is also sent to the Private Health Care Unit of the NSW Ministry of Health as part of the assessment of a licence (or re-licence) application.

Anatomy Inspectors continually monitor facilities to follow up on the progress of any recommendations.

One off workshops/meetings/forums​

I plan on using a body for a medical exhibition or a conference. Can I get a time limited licence?
Yes. Licences may be issued for a one-off event or for a limited time, for example for a conference or exhibition. An application is required which addresses the criteria set out in PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

As an inspection of the conference/exhibition venue may be necessary, individuals or institutions wishing to apply for one-off licences should ensure that they apply well in advance of the event.

I do not hold an anatomy licence but I would like to use a body for a surgical skills workshop. What do I need to do?

You will need to apply for a licence from the Secretary, NSW Health and comply with the Anatomy Act 1977 as well as other relevant laws. The process for this is set out in PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW. Your application should include an outline of the activities that you propose to undertake, the facility which you propose to use and how the body will be stored, accessed and disposed.

I would like to use a body for research. What do I need to do?

To use a human body for research you will need to apply for a licence from the Secretary, NSW Health and comply with the Anatomy Act 1977 as well as other relevant laws. Your application should include an outline of the activities that you propose to undertake, as well as how the body will be stored, accessed and disposed. For details on how to apply see PD 2011_052 Conduct of Anatomical Examinations and Anatomy Licensing in NSW.

Found specimens

Our Anatomy facility has found a number of older anatomical specimens without any provenance or documentation. Is the facility able to add these specimens to their anatomy register?

Specimens that are found without consent documentation or other proof of donation should be reported to the Anatomy Inspector in the first instance. Options that may be considered include discussion about whether the specimen is of potential value for teaching and may be retained or appropriately disposing of the specimen/s.

Page Updated: Tuesday 6 December 2016