To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to increase the level of organ and blood donation.
NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is responsible for the collection, manufacturing and issuing of blood products to the NHS in England. NHSBT needs to collect more than 6,000 blood donations every day to treat patients in need across England.
NHSBT undertake a range of activities to drive recruitment of around 200,000 new donors each year to off-set donors who can longer donate for reasons such as illness, travel or pregnancy. In addition, NHSBT has undertaken work to change its donor base to better reflect the needs of NHS patients. In particular, it is working to recruit a significant number of new blood donors from a black African or black Caribbean background.
Initiatives to support this goal have included work with black Christian churches across England, to encourage more black donors to register, book an appointment and give blood. NHSBT continues to work with black Asian and minority ethnic charity partners, including the Islamic Unity Society and Sewaday to promote registration drives and publicise sessions. It has also carried out Know Your Type events in high population Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic areas where individuals can learn their blood type with a finger prick test and be encouraged to book an appointment to donate.
NHSBT has continued this promotion in 2018 with the B Positive choir, which was created by NHSBT. The members include blood donors and blood recipients, people who have blood-related medical conditions such as sickle cell disease, their families, friends and people who work with blood.
NHSBT is currently implementing the ‘Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020: A UK Strategy’ which was launched in 2013. The strategy aims to achieve world class performance in organ donation and transplantation. It was developed by NHSBT and the four United Kingdom Health Departments. The strategy set the agenda for increasing organ donation and transplantation rates to world class standards over the next few years.
There is an urgent shortage of organs for people from all backgrounds. The problem is particularly acute for black, Asian and minority ethnic patients. These patients are over-represented on the waiting list. They are more likely to need an organ transplant than the rest of the population as they are more susceptible to illnesses such as diabetes and hypertension, which could result in organ failure. NHSBT is running a number of projects and engaging with stakeholders to address this issue.
During Organ Donation Week 2018 NHSBT and the Department announced a community investment scheme to break down myths and barriers and increase support for organ donation among black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Community and faith-based groups from across England and Wales were invited to apply for funding for projects to promote organ donation. An estimated £115,000 has been made available for projects in England in the first year of the scheme.
Despite these efforts, there are over 5,000 people on a transplant waiting list in England. To address this challenge, in October 2017, the Prime Minister announced plans to increase organ donation by shifting the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation. The new system which is expected to start from 2020 is expected to save hundreds more lives.