The Transplantation (Authorisation of Removal of Organs etc.)
(Scotland) Bill was introduced by Anne McTaggart MSP on 1 June
2015. She sought a system of implied consent to organ donation in
Scotland. The Bill fell in February this year, but a recent motion
by the British Medical Association means that this issue is likely
to raise its head again.
At their recent annual conference, the BMA voted to lobby
Westminster – as well as the devolved administrations in
Scotland and Northern Ireland – to introduce an opt-out
system for organ donation.
The proposed change is not without precedent. In December 2015
the Welsh Assembly introduced a presumed consent system. The Human
Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013 applies to anyone living in Wales
for at least 12 months prior to their death. They are presumed to
have given their consent to donate unless they have registered
their objection. This is subject to a family member informing
doctors of the deceased's unregistered objection.
The Guardian reported recently that between December
2015 and May 2016, 32 organs were donated in Wales through presumed
consent; the donors had neither opted out nor joined the organ
The law in Scotland provides that any individual over the age of
12 with capacity can consent to the use of their organs and
tissues. Since 2006 families have not been able to overturn an
individual's decision to opt on to the organ donor
90% of the Scottish public support organ donation, but only 40%
were on the register in 2013/14. Despite this, the Scottish
Government felt that the Bill was not an effective means to
increase organ donation rates. They had concerns over the practical
applications of the Bill, particularly the introduction of consent
by an appointed proxy. The proxy would have made decisions about
organ removal after the individual's death.
The Scottish Government committed to bringing forward its own
legislation after the 2016 elections. The motion by the BMA is
likely to increase the pressure for this to happen sooner rather
Any change in the law in Scotland will take us away from a
system of informed consent to organ donation, to one of implied
consent. Care must be taken to approach any change sensitively.
There is a risk of undermining the individual's bodily
integrity while responding to the need to increase the organ
Striving to increase the rate of organ donations is laudable,
but implied consent is in stark contrast to the current system,
premised upon the charitable will of the individual. It's
striking that parliament may be moving away from informed consent
in this context just as the courts underscore its importance in
clinical negligence claims.
After studying bioengineering and completing a PhD in the San Francisco Bay Area and a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship in London, Mark has spent the past four years analysing global health policy.
World AIDS Day, held on the 1st December each year, provides an opportunity for people to unite in the fight against HIV and show their support for people living with, or having died as a result of, HIV.
Since the enactment of Directive 2001/83/EC ("Community Code Directive") the European Community has conducted a comprehensive review of its legislation on medicinal products. It is not only that the Community since then has adopted Directive 2004/27/EC amending the Community Code. In fact, several other acts of legislation have been issued.
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