Following a public consultation, on 5 August the government announced plans for a new system of consent for organ and tissue donation in England. The RCP has issued a statement outlining its position.
Currently, people have to ‘opt-in’ to organ donation by registering. Under the proposals, they will have to ‘opt-out’. That means that if someone dies without recording that they do not want to donate, they will be deemed to have given consent. Children under 18, individuals who lack the mental capacity to understand the changes and people who have not lived in England for at least 12 months before their death will be excluded from the plans.
The proposed new system is expected to come into effect in England in spring 2020. The legislation, which was introduced in parliament last July, is expected to return to the House of Commons in the autumn.
On 17 July 2018, RCP Council agreed the following statement:
The RCP welcomes any changes to the system of organ donation in England that will help more people to improve the health and lives of others through transplantation. We recognise that there are legitimate differences of opinion as to whether the system of organ donation should be based on the principle of opt-in or opt-out, and believe both can be justified.
If a change is to be made to the current opt-in system in England, the following important conditions must be met: