BAME Blood, Stem Cell and Organ Donation — [Sir Henry Bellingham in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:16 pm on 27 June 2018.

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Photo of Jackie Doyle-Price Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care 4:16, 27 June 2018

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I could not give him a definitive answer at this moment in time. I would expect NHSBT to be using those outlets to spread the message. If it is not, I will make sure it does, but I will ask that question and I will write to him with a fuller answer.

Turning to organs, we have discussed that there are around 6,000 people waiting for an organ transplant, of whom 34% are from a black or Asian background. That illustrates the disparity, given that only 6% of deceased donors were from those backgrounds. There is a real challenge to ensure that we are able to save all the lives we can through transplant. We have a big campaign designed to improve the rates of organ donation.

We estimate that if the private Member’s Bill from the hon. Member for Coventry North West successfully passes through Parliament, it will save an additional 200 lives a year. That is not to be sniffed at. As a Health Minister, I would be failing in my duty if I did not do everything I possibly could to secure the passage of that Bill, and I will do that. But that does not alter the fact that we still need more black and Asian people to agree to go on the register. We are working on a number of tools to address people’s real concerns, whether they are about faith, belief or heritage. We need to be able to produce materials that attack misconceptions but do so in an extremely sensitive way to those who will react to them.

Again, I encourage all Members to get involved in helping us to develop those tools and in spreading those messages as best they can. We have a library of resources that are specifically tailored to particular communities, but I am always open to any suggestions for what more we can do, because ultimately this is a very serious injustice that we need to tackle. I have a very large black African Christian community in my constituency, so I am used to engaging with them, having these debates and encouraging them to sign up to the register. We can all do that.

I am very grateful to the hon. Member for Bedford and to all hon. Members who have shown support for this debate. I am under no illusion about the challenge here, but I am very heartened to see that so many Members recognise that this is a problem and are taking positive steps to do something about it. Those are the ingredients for success, but I will not be complacent—this is a tough one for us to tackle. I thank all donors, whether of blood, stem cells or organs, for everything that they have done to save people’s lives.

Question put and agreed to.