§ Mr. Cox
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services when his Department first considered the significance of required request as a method of increasing40W the number of donor organs; what studies have taken place on this matter; when a decision can be expected; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Currie
We have followed with interest the American experience of required request legislation, which began in 1985. In May 1986 the then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health visited New York to examine the operation of the laws. More recently the working party on the supply of donor organs set up by the medical royal colleges considered the introduction of legislation. They recommended an alternative non-legislative approach towards improving the availability of donor organs. I announced our decisions on the recommendations in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) on 18 December 1987, at column934.
§ Mrs. Currie
Successive Governments have considered and rejected contracting out schemes under which organs could be removed after death from anyone who had not registered an objection. Current legislation, as set out in the Human Tissue Act 1961, regards organ donation as a positive gift made by the donor during life or by surviving relatives after the donor's death. We have no plans to amend the Act.
Proposals for national contracting-in schemes are usually associated with computerised registers of potential donors. We are being kept informed of the progress of Lifeline Wales, a computerised register of potential donors with links to intensive care and neuro units in Wales. A national register covering England would be expensive to establish and maintain, and we would only consider making the necessary investment if the Welsh experience showed it to be clearly effective.