THE body of an unborn baby has been found in a bin in the grounds of Monklands hospital in Airdrie.
An investigation is under way after the foetus, believed to be between 15 and 20 weeks old, was found in a clinical waste dump.
NHS Lanarkshire has confirmed that a probe into the incident will be launched and apologised for the distress caused.
The remains of the unborn child were recovered and “treated with proper respect”, according to NHS Scotland.
A spokesman said: “The foetus has now been dealt with in accordance with our normal procedures.
“There is a storage facility in the maternity unit at Whishaw General Hospital where a foetus would be kept following a miscarriage.
“Arrangements for disposal are discussed with the family and depend on individual circumstances.
“Options include a hospital cremation or a private burial or cremation.”
Scottish Health Minister Alex Neil said something had gone “seriously wrong”.
Mr Neil, who is the MSP for Airdrie, told BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Clearly something has gone very badly wrong with the procedure as a result of which a foetus was wrongly put into a repository that it shouldn’t have been put into.
“There is a proper procedure and foetuses are stored at Wishaw General Hospital in these circumstances in a very protected and respectable environment.
“The health board is investigating what actually happened.”
Mr Neil also referred to “other issues” at Monklands which have caused the hospital to come under fire previously.
In August last year it was discovered that patients had been wrongly marked as do-not-resuscitate, in 2011 seven wards closed as a result of an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug norovirus and in 2009 the mother-in-law of Labour MSP Michael McMahon was left on a trolley for eight hours waiting for a bed.
Mr Neil added: “This is the first time, to the best of my knowledge, that this has happened (at Monklands).
“We’ve had other issues around Monklands, but to be fair to NHS Lanarkshire they’ve been doing their best to make sure that Monklands’ performance is brought up in terms of waiting times, in terms of A&E turn around, in terms of reducing c.diff and other hospital-acquired infections.
“There has been a huge improvement in Monklands over the past two or three years.”