GP backing for presumed consent in organ donation

Two thirds of GPs support introducing laws on presumed consent, a move the government will consider within five years if organ donation rates do not rise.

Of 460 GPs who responded to GP's GP Attitudes survey, 89 per cent thought that presumed consent would increase the number of organs available for donation.

A total of 66 per cent thought a system of presumed consent should be introduced in the UK.

Legislation to enable presumed consent could happen within five years if organ donation rates do not increase, according to health minister Dawn Primarolo.

Speaking at a New Statesman debate this month, Ms Primarolo said that measures were in place to monitor the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at increasing organ donations.

If these did not achieve a 50 per cent increase in available organs within five years, presumed consent laws would be reconsidered, she said.

Ms Primarolo's personal view is understood to be that presumed consent should be introduced.

The debate featured MPs from all three leading political parties. Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary Norman Lamb said he supported introducing presumed consent.

'I was very disappointed that, in the review that the government initiated, the recommendation that came back to the government was against presumed consent,' he said. 'I think it is the right thing to do.'

However, Andrew Lansley, the Conservatives' health spokesman, argued that organ donation should be based on informed consent.

'We have legislated under the Human Tissue Act for the principle of informed consent to be the basis for the way the health service and our public services use people's organs and tissues,' he said.

Mr Lansley added that many other initiatives could be introduced to improve donation rates. 'There are countries that do not have presumed consent which have very high organ donation rates relative to ours,' he said.

'So the proposition that there are many things that we can and should do that would raise the level of organ donation is one I heartily subscribe to.'

tom.moberly@haymarket.com

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