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Consultation on opt-out system

Published: 8 Feb 2016 17:30

Plans to increase organ donation

The Government intends to take forward a consultation on further methods to increase organ donation and transplantation, including developing a workable soft opt-out system, Public Health Minister Maureen Watt said today.

In an amendment laid ahead of the Stage 1 debate on the Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc.)(Scotland) Bill, the Government said it would take forward a consultation with a view to considering legislating itself.

The Minister will ask Parliament to reject the Member's Bill on the basis that there are serious concerns about the practical impact of this particular Bill, and instead agree to ask the Government to start developing a workable soft opt-out system for Scotland.

Minister for Public Health, Maureen Watt, said:

"We've worked hard to deliver a range of measures that have resulted in significant increases in the availability of organs for transplantation.

"Since 2008, we have seen an 82 per cent increase in the number of deceased organ donors in Scotland; a 42 per cent increase in the number of transplants undertaken; and a 21 per cent reduction in the active transplant waiting list.

"But while we're very supportive of measures to increase organ availability, in our view the Member's Bill before the Scottish Parliament is seriously flawed and could actually harm organ donation.

"Many of the measures set out in the Bill could make things worse due to legal ambiguities and delays in decision-making processes. We have concerns that the proposals around authorised investigating persons (AIPs) and proxies will add significant complexity into the donation pathway, and may lead to potential donors being lost.

"We also have concerns that provisions in relation to adults with incapacity may make it difficult for such adults, or their relatives, to opt-out, leaving them 'locked in' to donation.

"However, this Bill has helped to raise the profile of the debate about how we can increase the number of organ donors - bringing these important issues to the fore. What is clear is that both the public and MSPs share a desire to look again at what more can be done to help the hundreds of people that are waiting for a life-saving transplant in Scotland each year.

"That is why we propose starting work now on a detailed consultation to look at the best methods of achieving this in the next parliament. The consultation will be an opportunity to seek the views of the public on a range of issues, including soft opt-out, and determine what action the Scottish Government should take next to increase the availability of organs."