Panel to probe baby body bungle

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 January, 2009, 12:00am

The Hospital Authority will set up a five-person panel to investigate how a baby's body disappeared from the mortuary at Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital.

A final report will be ready in about six weeks and recommendations will be issued according to the findings.

Lau Chor-chiu, deputy chief executive of the hospital, has been appointed chairman of the panel.

The other panel members are Virginia Wu, of the Hospital Authority's Public Complaints Committee; David Lam Tat-yin, chief executive of Ruttonjee and Tang Shiu Kin Hospital; Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, who is assisting the parents of the baby; and Cheung Tak-hai, chairman of the Alliance of Patients' Mutual Help Organisation.

Commissioner of Police Tang King-shing yesterday visited officers at the Tseung Kwan O landfill who are searching for the body. He was hoping to boost morale and get an understanding of procedures and the difficulty of the task. A police spokesman said they had sifted through 7 tonnes of clinical waste in three days and the search would continue today.

The body of the prematurely born baby was placed in a compartment in the mortuary on December 15. A man's body was placed in the same compartment the next day. The man's body was released on December 19, which was the last time the baby's body was seen. It is believed to have been thrown away as rubbish. Police have targeted 8 tonnes of clinical waste that came from the hospital on December 20 and 21.

With only 1 tonne of waste left, the search should be completed today. A police source said some items picked up during the search would be sent to a government laboratory for DNA tests.

An employee of a landfill contractor, who hurt his hand on Tuesday while helping police, was back at work yesterday. He had been helping officers to dispose of clinical waste after it had been searched. He was sent to hospital for a check-up and later discharged.