Organ donation 'opt-out' policy considered by Government

Updated: 

Rules on organ donation in England could be reconsidered following changes in Scotland and Wales requiring people to "opt out" if they do not want their body parts to be used in transplants, Downing Street has indicated.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said the Government was "keeping a close eye" on whether the reforms drive up donation rates, and would use the information to help determine whether to change policy in England.

The Scottish Government is bringing forward legislation for a "soft" opt-out system, meaning organs cannot be removed without the consent of loved ones. But there will not be a requirement that deceased individuals must have signed up to be donors, as is the case in England and Northern Ireland.

Organ transplants in the UK hit record levels in 2016/17 and more than 23.5 million people are on the register of donors. But around three people die every day waiting for a suitable organ.

Asked whether England might switch from its current "opt-in" system to an opt-out arrangement in order to drive up numbers of organs available to doctors, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We are keeping a close eye on how the changes in Wales and Scotland are affecting donation rates in considering whether we would change our policy."