Thank you for contacting me about organ donation.
I welcome the Government’s efforts to encourage organ donation across the country, and believe that significant progress has been made.
Last year 500 people died waiting for a transplant because a suitable organ was not available. Therefore to address this challenge, the Prime Minister has recently announced proposals to move to an opt-out system for organ donation. In December 2017, the Government launched its 12 week consultation, which will examine how an opt-out system will work in practice. This consultation will investigate all possible safeguards to ensure that the system is not abused.
In 2015/16 the highest-ever deceased donor rate in the UK was recorded with 1,364 deceased donors resulting in 3,529 transplants. This was achieved by increasing the number of specialist nurses, in addition to strengthening the donation infrastructure. For example, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) now works with a number of partner organisations to promote organ donation, meaning that people can add their name to the Organ Donor Register (ODR) when carrying out everyday tasks such as applying for a driving licence or taxing their car.
You may be aware that a seven year UK-wide organ donation and transplantation strategy was jointly published by the four UK health ministers and NHSBT in 2013. The strategy aims to increase consent rates, encourage people to be proud to donate and to make the UK system comparable with the best of the world. It builds on the donation infrastructure already in place and the successes achieved, identifying the remaining barriers and setting out how these will be overcome. This focuses on increasing consent rates and encouraging more people to discuss donation with their families and friends.
In 2015 NHSBT launched a modern Organ Donation Register which can record whether or not someone wants to be an organ donor and record any wish to donate certain organs but not others. Every year NHSBT holds an annual National Organ Donation Week to raise awareness of organ donation and change attitudes across the country. In September 2016, I know that the campaign highlighted how people could give someone the chance of a new beginning by telling their family they want to be an organ donor.
I am also aware of a number of specific initiatives to raise awareness in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities to become donors.
There are proposals to move to a system of presumed consent, but the evidence so far available from where this has been implemented in Wales shows that it is both very expensive to maintain and leads to fewer actual organ donations.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
EDWARD LEIGH MP