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Presumed consent proposals misguided and likely to be ineffectual, says CARE

18 June 2012

67% of unique consultation responses were against the Welsh Government’s proposals

CARE wholeheartedly supports measures to increase organ and tissue donation; however, the Welsh Government’s draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill to introduce a system of presumed consent for organ donation, published today, is taking Wales down a dangerous path. CARE is concerned that the proposals are ultimately unlikely to bring about the results the Welsh Government promises.

Organ donation is a generous, entirely altruistic gift. Any change to a system which presumes consent for organ donation fundamentally undermines this principle as well as the patient-doctor trust relationship. There has been a 49% increase in organ donation rates in Wales since 2008, largely due to procedural and structural changes within the current legislative framework, and there is no evidence to suggest or reason to believe that introducing presumed consent for organ donation would have any positive impact on this figure.1

The Welsh Government is pressing ahead with its plans to move to a system of presumed consent for organ donation despite a very mixed response to the consultation on its proposals earlier in the year. Although it appears that a majority of those expressing a view in their submission were in support of the Government’s proposals, a significant number of the favourable responses – just over 80% (520) – were identical.

Often in consultations, duplicate responses are collated and counted as a single submission. The Welsh Government did so with the list of 45 names contained on a petition (which was also in favour of the proposals) but has not done so with the 520 identikit responses.

If the policy of collating identical responses into one response had been consistently followed through, the figures reveal that only 17% support the Welsh Government’s proposals, whereas 67% are opposed to them.2

Speaking in Swansea, Dr Dan Boucher, CARE’s Policy Officer in Wales said,

‘Although the Welsh Government’s heart is in the right place, their policy is not. A system of presumed consent is highly concerning both in terms of its ethics and efficacy; CARE will be responding to the Welsh Government’s consultation and urging them to reconsider their proposals.’

For more information, please contact Dr Dan Boucher on 07768 165543.

Notes:

  1. In Spain, for example, Presumed Consent was introduced in 1979, yet it was the implementation (10 years later) of a comprehensive, innovative national organ donation system involving specialist transplant coordinators, effective provision of intensive care facilities, and numerous other structural and procedural improvements which made the difference to organ donation rates.
    See Fabre, P Murphy, R Matesanz. 2010. ‘Presumed consent: a distraction in the quest for increasing rates of organ donation’. BMJ. 341 doi: 10.1136/bmj.c4973 http://bit.ly/ymzenx
  2. Some figures from the consultation on the Welsh Government’s proposals which closed on 31 January 2012:Total number of responses received: 1,234
    Number expressing a view one way or the other: 1,124 (91%)
    Number supportive of proposals: 642 (52%)
    Number opposed to proposals: 482 (39%)
    Of the 642 responses supporting the Government’s proposals, 520 (81%) were identikit responses
    Number of supportive responses (642) – Identical responses (520) + 2 (identical responses collated according to their source) = 124Thus, there were only 716 unique responses. Of this figure, 67% (482) were opposed to the Government’s proposals compared to just 17% (124) in favour.(The Welsh Government’s summary of responses to their proposals for legislation on organ and tissue donation can be read here: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dhss/consultation/120307organdonationsummaryen.pdf
  3. Details of the Welsh Government’s draft Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill can be found here: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/organbill/;jsessionid=1JJ4PpshqvSLw2Hvm3Fw3TV6ytb0C1gfbvnvsXKm8h3qLqF92dbf!929540729?lang=en

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