A petition seeking an opt out organ donor system in England, as has been adopted in Wales, has reached sufficient numbers to warrant a Government response. Below is a copy of that response sent to petitioners:
The Government has responded to the petition you signed – “All UK residents to be placed on the Organ Donor Register.”.
We have no plans to introduce an opt out system in England. Since 2007/08 organ donation rates have increased by 68% and transplant rates by 47% giving many more people the opportunity of a transplant
Since 2007/08 organ donation rates have increased by 68% and transplant rates by 47% mainly through a strengthening of the donation infrastructure (increasing the number of specialist nurses, appointing clinical leads in hospitals and public awareness of the benefits of donation). We continue to support work to further increase donation and transplantation rates, particularly promoting collaborative working amongst organisations and raising awareness of donation in the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) population. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) works with a number of partners in the private, public and third sectors to promote organ donation, such as the Boots Advantage Card.
A new UK-wide NHS organ donor register was launched in July 2015. It enables any resident in the UK to record on the Register that they want to be a donor, they don’t want to be a donor or that they want to appoint a representative to make a decision about organ donation after their death. People can also add their name to the NHS Organ Donor Register (ODR) via Government channels such as applying for a driving licence and paying car tax online. NHSBT continues work to improve access to the ODR, to encourage people to add their name to the ODR and most importantly to tell their family and friends that they wish to be a donor.
Only around 5000 people a year die in circumstances that would allow them to donate. Last year (15/16) was the UK’s most successful year ever for deceased donors, with 1364 deceased donations, resulting in 3529 deceased donor transplants. An independent Organ Donation Taskforce examined the case for moving to an opt-out system in 2008. They recommended against it, concluding that whilst such a system might have the potential to deliver benefits, it also carried a significant risk of having the opposite effect and alienating some members of the population. The question of opt-out has been debated in Parliament on a number of occasions since and a number of changes have been made to make it easier to register as an organ donor.
We recognise that some countries with opt-out have seen an increase in donor numbers, however, other countries have not. It is difficult to identify absolutely that opt-out legislation was the reason for the increase rather than for example the increased public communication or the improvements to the donation programme. For example in Spain (the country with the highest rate of donor numbers) a change to opt out legislation made no difference for 10 years until radical action was taken to strengthen the donation infrastructure. Since 2008, the UK has adopted much of the ‘Spanish model’ to strengthen the UK infrastructure and has achieved a significant increase in donation and transplant rates
On 1 December 2015, Wales introduced deemed consent (opt-out) for organ and tissue donation. We will monitor how the changes in Wales affect donation rates but our efforts remain focussed on encouraging donor registration and discussion within families about donation in order to increase consent rates.
UK Government provides NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) with around £66m a year to support organ donation. In 2013, NHSBT launched a UK-wide organ donation and transplantation strategy Taking Organ Transplantation to 2020, setting the agenda for increasing organ donation and transplantation rates. This sets ambitious targets to:
– Increase Consent Rates
– Increase Donors
– Increase Organ Utilisation (transplant more of the organs offered from donors)
– Increase Patients Transplanted
We monitor progress against targets closely.
Department of Health
Click this link to view the response online:
The Petitions Committee will take a look at this petition and its response. They can press the government for action and gather evidence. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures, the Committee will consider it for a debate.
The Committee is made up of 11 MPs, from political parties in government and in opposition. It is entirely independent of the Government. Find out more about the Committee: https:
The Petitions team
UK Government and Parliament
Whilst the response is a disappointment the action taken over the past few years is encouraging in raising donation potential; but it will need to be maintained to be the right option. The results of the Welsh deemed consent policy may have an influence in future if not. Or 100,000 signatures.
Meanwhile it just takes two minutes to opt in click here