Legislation which proposes a change in the law on organ donation has not been supported by a majority of MSPs on the Health and Sport Committee.
MSPs on the Committee have been scrutinising the Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc.) (Scotland) Bill’s proposals for a soft opt-out system for organ donation and today publish their stage one report.
A majority of the Committee is not persuaded that this Bill is an effective means to increase organ donation rates due to serious concerns over practical implications of aspects of this Bill and therefore do not support its general principles. They consider that there is not enough clear evidence to demonstrate that changing to the opt-out system of organ donation as proposed in this Bill would result in an increase in donations.
In its report, a majority of the Committee believe that there may be merit in developing a workable soft opt-out system and are calling on the Scottish Government to commence work in preparation for a detailed consultation on further methods to increase organ donations, including soft opt out, as an early priority in the next Parliament, and to consider legislating itself.
A minority of the Committee does support the general principles of the Bill and considers that this Bill needs to be introduced now so that the resulting increase in organ donation rates can benefit those currently on transplantation waiting lists. They consider the opt-out system proposed in this Bill will enhance the range of other activities undertaken and will change the conversation with families at a time of loss such that there will be an increase in donation rates.
Convener of the Committee, Duncan McNeil MSP said:
“There is no doubt that everyone we heard from is passionate about the need to increase organ donation rates in Scotland. As a Committee we heard of the transformative effects of organ donation on those who receive organs and their families. We recognise the devastating impact on all aspects of family life of those who are waiting for donated organs.
“As a Committee we have to consider all the evidence placed in front of us and it was clear that there are differing views about the best way to increase donation rates.
“Whilst the Committee supported the aim behind the legislation, a majority couldn’t support the detail.
“However, a minority of the Committee do consider that this Bill should be introduced immediately. Now that the Committee has reported on the Bill, the full Parliament will decide whether the legislation should progress.”
Mr McNeil continued:
“There is no doubt that this legislation has sparked interest in how we increase organ donation in Scotland.
“A majority of the Committee had concerns over the practical implications of the proposed Bill and therefore want to see the Scottish Government prepare a consultation in order to identify further ways that we can increase organ donation in Scotland.”
The Transplantation bill is a Member’s bill introduced by Anne McTaggart MSP. All MSPs will now debate the general principles of the Bill and the Parliament will decide whether to agree to the general principles of the Bill. The debate on the Bill should take place before the Stage 1 deadline of 12 February 2016.
The Committee took evidence on the Bill over four meetings in November and December 2015. The Committee also held three informal meetings with organ donor recipients and those awaiting a transplant, families of organ donors and also a meeting with faith and belief group representatives. The Committee also undertook a fact finding visit to Spain.