To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) whether he plans to bring forward legislative proposals on presumed consent for organ transplants in England; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what discussions he has had since July 2012 with Ministers in the Welsh Government on proposals to introduce presumed consent into the organ donation system in Wales; and if he will make a statement;
(3) what assessment he has made of the potential effect of measures in the Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill on organ donations and transplants in England; and if he will make a statement.
There are no plans to bring forward legislative proposals on presumed consent for organ transplants in England. In 2008, the Organ Donation Taskforce considered presumed consent in considerable detail looking at the clinical, communication, cultural, ethical, legal and practical aspects of opt-out legislation. Their second report, ‘The potential impact of an opt-out system for organ donation’, published in November 2008, did not recommend introducing an opt-out system at that time finding that while such a system might have the potential to deliver benefits, they were not confident its introduction would increase organ donor numbers. The taskforce felt there was some evidence that donor numbers may go down. For example, although the majority of faith and belief groups interviewed were positive about donation most were opposed to the introduction of opt-out legislation.
Instead, the taskforce believed that a significant increase in donor rates could be achieved by acting on the recommendations in their first report, ‘Organs for Transplants’, published in January 2008, without the need for legislation and the costs and risks associated with introducing a new consent system. Implementation of the taskforce recommendations has seen United Kingdom donor numbers rise by 40% since then.
The Explanatory Memorandum accompanying the draft Welsh Government Human Transplantation (Wales) Bill is not definite about the level of increase that is likely to occur with the introduction of opt-out legislation in Wales, but every additional donor could donate on average three organs to the UK pool for transplantation.
Across the UK, we have made considerable progress over the last four years with a welcome significant improvement in organ donor rates. We wish to be certain that this progress can be maintained and discussions are ongoing with the Welsh Government looking at the policy, financial, operational and legal implications of their proposal on the UK donation programme.