On October 3rd the Prime Minister announced plans to introduce an opt-out system of consent for organ donation into England (1), indicating that a consultation on the proposal would be launched before the end of the year. Dr Paul Murphy, National Clinical Lead for Organ Donation, explains why the time for such a system is right.
Opt-out systems of consent are generally associated with higher donor numbers, although demonstrating a causal link remains elusive. A consultation on a ‘soft opt out’ system in Scotland earlier in the year showed considerable support for it (2), whilst a system of so-called deemed consent already operates in Wales. The Welsh system was enacted in December 2015 following an intense period of public education and professional preparation. Whilst there have been encouraging signs in consent rates, as yet none have reached statistical significance and neither has there been any demonstrable increase in donor numbers.
A consultation on a ‘soft opt out’ system in Scotland earlier in the year showed considerable support for it