Organ and tissue donation and transplantation is an incredible development in modern healthcare. It is genuinely life-changing and one of the greatest gifts a person can give. Organ and tissue donation saves and improves lives. It allows people to lead full and happy lives, return to work, and contribute to society.
While the NHS in Scotland, with the amazing help of donors and their families, has already achieved a huge amount in increasing numbers of organ and tissue donors, we need to continue doing more in order to help reduce the numbers of people in Scotland waiting for transplants or dying waiting.
Much work is already in progress to help with this - we are already delivering meaningful improvements as a result of our Donation and Transplantation Plan for Scotland, 2013-2020. However, this consultation looks at two ways we could potentially increase numbers of deceased organ and tissue donors - by seeking to increase numbers of referrals and by seeking to increase the number of times when donation is 'authorised' to proceed. In particular, the Scottish Government has agreed to consider the introduction of an opt out system of donation if this can be developed in a way which will do no harm to trust in the NHS or to the safety of transplantation. We will also be monitoring the progress in Wales carefully to learn lessons from their experience of introducing a new opt out system.
Our presumption is in favour of taking an opt out system forward as part of a long-term process of culture change to encourage people to support donation. However, I am keen to hear your views on these proposals and others in this consultation so I would encourage you to respond to the questions we raise. Whatever the outcome of this consultation, rest assured the Scottish Government will continue to work both within Scotland and with our partners across the UK to increase organ and tissue donation and to allow more people to benefit from life-saving or life-changing transplants.
Minister for Public Health and Sport