Department of Health and Social Care
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Licences to drive up organ donation
From today (Monday 1 August), people will have to answer questions about organ donation before they can complete their driving licence application through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website.
The new initiative to encourage people to think about organ
donation and drive up numbers on the organ donor register has been
launched by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.
Expanding on an existing scheme with the DVLA which has seen more than 8.5 million people sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, the Government now hopes to increase registration even further through a number of prompter questions urging people to consider joining up.
Anne Milton said:
"Being an organ donor is a truly selfless act and a life saving gift to someone in need. Only 29 per cent of people in the UK have registered to donate organs, when we know 90 per cent of people in the UK have expressed interest in donating.
"We want to make it easier for people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register when they apply for their driving licence and encourage everyone to discuss their organ donation wishes with their loved ones. The changes to the DVLA website will do just that but you don't have to wait. Anyone can sign up today by filling a form online at www.organdonation.nhs.uk or calling 0300 123 23 23."
Driving licence applicants will have to tick one of three boxes to answer a question on organ donation before they can complete their application:
• Yes, I would like to register
• I do not wish to answer this question now; or
• I am already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register.
Many people who currently apply for a driving licence either miss or ignore the organ donation question. The new page simply requires people to answer the question about joining the register before they can continue with their application.
It is hoped that the change will double the percentage of people choosing to join the organ donation register when applying for a driving licence. The prompted choice scheme has already been successfully trialled in several US states. In Illinois, the percentage of donors who have registered has increased from 38 per cent to 60 per cent since 2008.
Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), said:
“This trial will prompt everyone applying for or renewing their driving licence online to take the positive step and sign up.
“Around 8,000 people in the UK are actively waiting for a transplant and around 1,000 people die each year while waiting or because they have become too ill and are removed from the list.
“Our focus is to encourage even more people to join the NHS Organ
Donor Register. Anyone signing up is urged to discuss their wishes
with family and friends to ensure they will support their wishes
when the time comes.”
Currently, there are around one million new registrations every year to the organ donation register and half of them come through the DVLA.
Transport Minister Mike Penning praised the initiative:
“I fully support this initiative to encourage more people to
register as organ donors. The DVLA’s driving licence application
is already the most common route used by people to register as an
organ donor and this should help further boost the numbers.”
The organ donation initiative is a good example of how the Department of Health and the new Behavioural Insights Team at the Cabinet Office have been working together to support improvements in health outcomes, drawing on insights from behavioural science. It show ways in which health improvements can be made without requiring legislation.
Notes to editors
1. The change to the DVLA online driving licence process will take effect in England, Scotland and Wales from 1 August 2011.
2. For organ donation statistics by local council areas, please visit the NHS Blood and Transplant website at: http://www.nhsbt.nhs.uk/news/councils_statistics.html
3. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) is a Special Health Authority in the NHS. It is the organ donation organisation for the UK, with responsibility for matching and allocating donated organs. Its remit also includes the provision of a safe, sufficient supply of blood and associated services to the NHS in England and North Wales.
4. There are currently more than 18 million people on the NHS Organ Donor Register, equivalent to 29% of the UK population.
5. Most people joining the organ donation register – around 90% – have ticked the box to allow all of their organs and tissue to be donated for transplant after their death but some people avoid answering this question. The change to prompted choice means that this question has to be answered before the applicant can move onto the next question.
6. There are currently 7,626 people waiting for an organ transplant in the UK, the majority (6,485) needing a kidney transplant.
7. For any media queries, please contact the Department of Health Media Centre on 020 7210 5221. Members of the public should call 020 7210 4850.
8. For any queries about the DVLA, please contact the DVLA press office on 0300 123 0791.
Department of Health
Phone: 020 7210 5221