11 Mar 2009 09:39 AM
Review of the organ allocation system for non-UK residents

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH News Release issued by COI News Distribution Service. 11 March 2009

A review to clarify the rules on organ transplants for NHS patients and non- UK EU residents, was announced by Health Secretary Alan Johnson today.

A number of organs from UK deceased donors are transplanted into non-UK resident EU nationals each year. To help ensure public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the organ allocation system in the UK Elisabeth Buggins, the chair of the former Organ Donation Taskforce, has been asked to examine policy and practice within the framework of European law, on the use of organs from UK deceased donors.

The review will:

* Provide clarity to the transplant community and enable individual transplant centres to review or agree their policies in relation to this area of healthcare and to ensure that the needs of UK patients are met within the framework of European law

* Enable the UK to feed in the Taskforce findings to any work taken forward by the European Commission as part of the implementation of the Organ Donation Action Plan published 8 December 2008

* Reassure the public about the integrity of the UK transplant programme

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson said:

"Organ donation is one of medicine's great success stories, transforming thousands of people's lives each year. We want to enable as many UK nationals as possible who need new organs to have that life saving or life enhancing organ transplant. That is why we accepted the Organ Donation taskforce recommendations last year and why we are investing significantly in the donation infrastructure.

"We are aware that some people resident in other countries within the European Union needing transplants are being referred to the UK. This had led to accusations of priority being given to non-UK patients. We want to optimise the availability of organs for transplant for NHS patients and ensure public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the organ allocation system in the UK. I have asked Elisabeth Buggins to lead this review to examine policy and practice within the framework of European law, on the use of organs from UK deceased donors."

Elisabeth Buggins said:

"I am happy to lead this review. I recognise that this is a complex and sensitive area. It is important to be able to build the confidence of the public in the integrity of the systems that determine how precious donated organs are allocated to individual patients, and to provide clear guidance to the transplant community."

Ends

Notes to editors:

1. For all media enquiries please contact the DH media centre on tel: 020 7210 5221

2. The terms of reference for the review are as follows:

In order to optimise the availability of organs for transplant for NHS patients and ensure public confidence in the fairness and transparency of the organ allocation system in the UK, to examine policy and practice in the UK, within the framework of european law, on the use of organs from UK deceased donors in respect of the referral, acceptance and transplantation of non UK EU residents including the different funding arrangements and to report findings to the Department of Health by June 2009.

3. The review will be conducted to examine policy and practice within the framework of European law.