Committee begin scrutiny of organ transplant bill

12th Sep 2018 - James Mildred

The Public Bills Committee begins its examination of the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill today.

If passed, the legislation would see an opt-out system of organ donation introduced across England, with sources indicating it would be up and running by spring 2020.  

Opt-out organ donation

The Government have already announced their intention to back the private members bill after the Prime Minister publicly announced the Government’s support for the change at last year’s Conservative Party conference.

At the moment, there is an opt-in system in England which means people can voluntarily choose to sign-up to the organ donation register.

Under this system, organ donation remains a true gift and it is up to the individual to decide whether to donate or not.

An opt-out system would mean every eligible adult is automatically presumed to be a donor unless they choose to opt-out.

An opt-out system has already been introduced in Wales where the impact on donor levels has been decidedly mixed.

Concerns raised

In a recent article published by Conservative Home, CARE’s chief executive Nola Leach set out three reasons for the Government to abandon its opt-out plans.

Firstly, she argued an opt-out system institutes an alarming new relationship between the state and the individual with far-reaching implications for basic liberties if enshrined in law.

Secondly, there are very real doubts about the effectiveness of opt-out system in terms of increasing the number of deceased donations.

Thirdly, it does not provide good value for money as there are more effective methods out there.

CARE has argued that instead of spending scare resources on an opt-out system, it would be better to invest money into making sure more specialist organ donation nurses are available.

Research by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics found that the rates of family consent were 68.6 per cent when a specialist nurse in organ donation approached the family, but just 27.5 per cent when the approach was made by other staff without the specialised training.

What happens next?

Following committee scrutiny, the legislation will then move to Report Stage in the House of Commons and then Third Reading. If passed, the legislation then moves to the House of Lords for further scrutiny. 

Find out more

Listen to CARE’s James Mildred explain CARE’s concerns about opt-out organ donation.

Watch CARE’s Dr Dan Boucher debate opt-out organ donation on Sky News.


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