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Department of Health

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Organ Donation Taskforce

  • Last modified date:
    11 May 2009
  • Gateway reference:
    9302

Information about the Government's Organ Donation Taskforce, which was established in 2006.  

Taskforce membership and terms of reference

Following the CMO’s recommendation in his annual report for 2006, the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Johnson, asked the Organ Donation Taskforce to examine the issues raised by the CMO under the following terms of reference:

“To establish a special sub group to examine the potential impact on organ donation of introducing an opt-out or presumed consent system across the UK, having regard to the views of the public and stakeholders on the clinical, ethical, legal and societal issues, and to publish its findings.”

How the taskforce will work

A group of officials and members of the Taskforce met for the first time on 30 November 2007 to scope the work required in this area.

The Taskforce recognises that among the public there will be a variety of attitudes to organ donation and what constitutes a valid system of consent. In considering the potential impact of a move to a system of presumed consent or opt out on the number of successful transplantations across the UK, the Taskforce will review the evidence and consider the implications from a number of  perspectives, to ensure that its recommendations are based on as wide an evidence-base as possible and take full account of societal, cultural and ethical considerations about consent systems as well as practical considerations. 

The Taskforce is therefore establishing six advisory sub-groups to take forward detailed work in the following areas (in no particular order of priority):

  1. Clinical practice
    This group will consider the implications for clinical practice of different consent systems. Professionals from many disciplines may be involved in dealing with consent or dealing with dying patients or their families, including donation specialists, intensive care specialists, nurses, palliative care specialists and bereavement staff. 
  2. Practical
    This group will advise on what systems and infrastructures would need to be put in place to support different consent systems.
  3. Legal
    This group will consider the current legal framework relevant to consent for organ donation, and the implications of changing to an opt-out basis. As well as the legislation with a direct bearing on consent (the Human Tissue Act 2004), the group will also be looking at the interaction with other legislation such as the Human Rights Act 1998  and the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
  4. Ethical
    This group will consider the ethical basis of different consent systems and advise on the ethical acceptability of different systems across the UK.
  5. Cultural
    This group will look at prevailing attitudes to organ donation and consent in the many and varied cultural and faith groups in the UK and report on how these could be accommodated in different consent systems.
  6. Communications
    This group will advise on how best to engage with various sections of the population (for example different age groups) and reach all sections of society so that there is proper understanding of the consent system and how it works.

Additional links

NHS Blood and Transplant - organ donation

At UK Transplant we are doing everything with one focus - to save or improve the lives of thousands of people every year through organ transplantation.

Human Tissue Authority

HTA regulates the removal, storage, use and disposal of human bodies, organs and tissue from the living and deceased.

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