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Organ Donation

Volume 533: debated on Tuesday 18 October 2011

Sustained work at national, regional and local level has seen an increase in donor rates by some 28% since 2008. We continue to work with a large number of organisations, such as the Give and Let Live initiative in schools, which is run by NHS Blood and Transplant. Other initiatives include requiring people to answer a question about organ donation when applying for a driving licence and to sign on the organ donor register when applying for a European health insurance card or for a Boots advantage card. We also have specific initiatives within the black and minority ethnic populations, such as working with faith groups and local radio stations.

I recently met young campaigners from Sign Up, Speak Up, Save Lives whose organ donation campaign features on Channel 4’s “Battlefront” programme. Will the Minister please meet Hope, Abby and me, together with the Minister responsible for constitutional reform, so that we may discuss with them both our idea of inviting people to join the organ donor register at the same time as they will soon be asked to join the electoral register?

I congratulate Sign Up, Speak Up, Save Lives. I am happy to meet Hope, Abby and the hon. Gentleman, along with the Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the Member for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper). The electoral registration form has been used as an opportunity. In 2000 there was a campaign called Vote for Life, which was stopped after about 15 months because of problems with the Representation of the People Act. I would be happy to revisit it and would enjoy an opportunity to discuss the matter further. Anything we can do to get those rates up matters.

The reorganisation of NHS procurement has been described in a National Audit Office report as fragmented and poor value for money. The report shows—

What discussion has the Minister had with Welsh Ministers who are bringing forward legislation for an opt-out system of organ donation? If she has had such discussions, what conclusions has she drawn?

The Government will examine thoroughly the detail of any Assembly Bill when it is laid before the Assembly, but I urge Wales to look at the evidence. We can look back to what happened in Spain, where there was presumed consent for 10 years without any shift in organ donation rates. The issue is more complex than that. It is about organ donor transplant co-ordinators and increasing donations from emergency medicine. A number of measures need to be put in place to increase those rates.

Will my hon. Friend be kind enough to meet Mr Adam Crizzle, who was the original inspiration behind the Give and Let Live organ donation programme in schools, to see how the promotion of this excellent scheme might be further improved?

I would be very happy to meet that gentleman. There is no doubt that promoting this in schools has a profound impact and is an opportunity to change people’s attitudes to organ donation and, more importantly, makes families discuss it, which is critical. It is not just about signing on to the register.

Last week I had the opportunity to meet members of the Ticker club, an organisation of former heart patients who continue to provide support to patients at Wythenshawe hospital, a specialist centre for cardiac and thoracic surgery, including heart and lung transplants. They have strong opinions on organ donation, so will the Minister agree to involve such groups in ongoing campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for raising that issue. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has visited that hospital, and I am happy to work with any group. I reiterate the fact that we particularly need to work with black and minority ethnic groups, in which the rates of donation are truly dreadful: 23% of people on waiting lists are from black and minority ethnic communities, but only 1.2% of those on the register are from that same group. We need to do everything we can to improve those rates.