I beg to move,
That this House
has considered the organ donation and transplantation strategy.
It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms McVey. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting the opportunity to debate the important topic of the organ donation and transplantation strategy. I also thank the Minister and her departmental team for their responses to my inquiries about organ donation on behalf of my constituents. Their answers have been detailed, helpful and reassuring.
In the time I have been in this place, I have learned that Westminster Hall debates are not always used to be helpful to the Government and are often used to point out their flaws and failings. I may be guilty of having done that once or twice myself, but I want to use this debate to do three things. First, I want to congratulate the Government on the steps they have taken thus far, most notably with the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act 2019. Secondly, I want to encourage further education and awareness around organ donation. Thirdly, I want to explore future steps that the Government can take in relation to organ donation and transplantation strategy.
In May 2020, the law around organ donation in England was changed to allow more people to save more lives. The Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Act, which many hon. Members present supported, changed the law to mean that an individual agrees to become an organ donor when they die if they are over 18, have not opted out and are not in an excluded group. The Government’s legislation brought us more into line with other countries but, more importantly, the number of available organ donors increased dramatically, while the number of people opting out of the opting-in initiative only slightly increased. Pre opt-out—before
NHS Blood and Transplant launched a public awareness campaign in April 2019 to inform the public about the prospective law change and the choices available to them. An evaluation of that campaign found that over 75% of adults in England were aware of the new system of consent. The third year of the campaign, which I believe comes to an end in March 2022, looks to encourage people to talk to their families and loved ones about organ donation and their organ donation decisions. With consent rates currently at 68% across the UK and 78.8% in the south-west, it is particularly welcome to see the Government state their ambition to increase consent levels to 80%. A 12% increase is likely to result in approximately 700 more transplants per year and countless lives saved.