Northern Ireland Assembly
I thank the Member for his intervention. The SDLP amendment asks the Minister to give consideration to improving the current donation rates, including an opt-out system of donation. Members talked about the system that is under consideration in Wales and also the Spanish model. We acknowledge that the BMA now supports an opt-out system as a means of maximising donation rates. Nevertheless, I take the point, made by Kieran McCarthy in particular, that we need to ensure that all ethical issues are addressed. It is clear that precautions must be taken and there must be no room for error.
As a number of Members said, Spain has the highest rate of donation in Europe. Incidentally, it used to have the lowest rate, so it has obviously done something right. There are several reasons for that, one of them being the introduction of an opt-out system, which has created a subtle and positive shift in attitude towards organ donation in that region. Donation becomes the usual rather than the unusual option for people and it eases the burden on families and medical staff when discussing organ donation. Anyone with a strong objection to being a donor will be able to opt out and their reservations and intentions will be clearly known.
In our current system, 90% of the population —