Northern Ireland ‘being left behind’ in new organ donation system

The Government today confirmed its intention to change the rules in spring 2020

"It can not be right that a shortage of donors means people from minority ethnic backgrounds wait longer for a transplant than others", Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Inequalities, said.

Under-18s, people with limited mental capacity and others who have not lived in England for at least a year prior to their death will be exempt from the scheme.

But Mr Beggs added: "Sadly, however, in the ongoing absence of an Executive at Stormont, and after a previous attempt to introduce an opt-out system here in 2016 was scuppered by the DUP and Sinn Fein for primarily political reasons, Northern Ireland will soon have the most outdated and inadequate organ donation system of any part of the UK".

Further, 21% of people who died on the organ donation waiting list in the United Kingdom a year ago were from a BAME background.

The announcement came after a report called on the NHS to take more proactive action to address the high death rate among Indian-origin people in Britain due to low levels of organ donation within the community.

The Government says this better-reflects the views of the majority of the population who are in favour of organ donation.

It will replace the current plan, under which people must sign up to be a donor on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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Those who do not wish to donate can record this on the NHS register either online, by phone or on an app to be released by the end of the year.

The legislation was subsequently introduced a year ago, and will return to the House of Commons in the autumn to be voted on.

Under the new plans, specialist nurses will be on hand to discuss donation with families after a loved one dies.

Fiona Loud, policy director at Kidney Care UK, said: "Patients are dying every day while they wait for a transplant, so we welcome the commitment to change our system so more lives can be transformed".

It has been adopted to tackle donor shortages and is meant to shift the balance of presumption in favour of organ donation, the Department of Health and Social Care said.

"But the issue really is how do we weigh up the number of lives saved with the need to respect fully the consent of the person who has just died to what happens to their organs".

Grieving families are given the choice if a patient's wish to donate is not known - but less than half give consent for the organs to be donated.

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