An inspection of the mortuary where dozens of bodies were sexually abused found no major security issues, HSJ can reveal.
The Human Tissue Authority – which regulates most hospital mortuaries – carried out an inspection of the two mortuaries operated by Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells Trust in late 2018.
David Fuller sexually assaulted female corpses at the trust’s Tunbridge Wells hospital from 2011 until he was arrested in December 2020. It was revealed yesterday that he had carried out assaults on at least 100 bodies between 2008 and 2020, including some at the now demolished Kent and Sussex Hospital.
The inspection found the Tunbridge Wells mortuary met the majority of the HTA’s standards, albeit with a number of minor and major shortfalls. None of these related directly to security, although the inspection report did note that lone working was “a frequent occurrence at this mortuary” and called for a documented standard operating practice.
It also added that a risk assessment for lone mortuary workers said they should be contacted at the start and end of the shift, but this did not consistently happen.
The report did raise issues around CCTV coverage in the mortuary at the trust’s Maidstone Hospital, saying staff had to verify who was requesting access by opening the access doors to the mortuary and this could pose a potential risk to the security of staff and premises. There is no evidence that Mr Fuller carried out any offending at Maidstone.
Mr Fuller, who was a maintenance supervisor at the Tunbridge Wells Hospital, was able to access the mortuary, purportedly to carry out work and checks. He often did this after the mortuary staff had gone home and used this opportunity to carry out assaults.
The main area of the mortuary was covered by CCTV but the post mortem room – where the assaults took place – did not have CCTV at the time. This allowed him to carry out his assaults without being filmed.
The trust has commissioned an independent report from former trust chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael. Local MP Greg Clark has called for a public inquiry, saying: “the questions that must be faced are national, not just local”.
Last month NHS England ordered all trusts to carry a check of security arrangements at their mortuaries.
The HTA said, in a statement: “We are deeply shocked by these crimes and the distressing impact they will have on families and friends of the victims. Protecting the dignity of the deceased is a guiding principle of our work at the HTA.
“Understanding how these crimes were able to take place is now critical, so any lessons can be learned for all those involved. The HTA is ready to advise the secretary of state and contribute to this process, alongside the findings from the independent investigation into what happened at the trust.”