There has been much media coverage in recent years about the cremation and ashes of non-viable babies. We recognise the pain and distress faced by families following the loss of non-viable babies and our crematoria will do everything within their power to provide a respectful, dignified and caring service to bereaved families.
While a non- viable baby (a foetus of less than 24 weeks gestation) has no legal status and there is no recognition of the term within The Cremation Regulations (England and Wales) 2008 and there is no requirement to provide cremation facilities, we recognise that we have a social and moral responsibility to offer a cremation service. This is an approach endorsed by the Federation of Burial and Cremation Authorities and the Institute of Cemetery and Crematorium Managers.
The Infant Cremation Commission, chaired by Lord Bonomy, was established in Scotland in 2013. It made 64 recommendations to the Scottish Government and it is entirely likely that many, if not all, of these recommendations will be adopted in England and Wales in the near future. The Westerleigh Group Directors and Managers have given careful consideration to the recommendations and have, in the absence of any current Guidance from either the Ministry of Justice nor the Department of Health, agreed that all crematoria within the Westerleigh Group will continue to provide a dignified cremation to non-viable babies up to 24 weeks’ gestation on an individual basis.
An application form will need to be signed by a parent or representative of a parent together with either a doctor or a registered midwife. Although the recovery of ashes cannot be guaranteed, every effort will be made to recover the ashes which will be made available for collection by the applicant or for scattering. All such cremations will be carried out free of charge.