Organ donation report released today

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Organ donation report released today

Postby bigbuzzard » Fri Jul 31, 2009 8:52 am

There's likely to be a fair amount of coverage in the media today about a new report on new guidelines for when non-UK Residents can receive organ transplants in the the UK. I suspect that some of it will be a bit jingoistic!

Here's the original story (below) that the news companies were working from yesterday. I was told yesterday by someone at the department of health that in practice, it is only liver transplants that will be affected in any way by these new guidelines. Although the new guidelines refer to all organs, it was only liver transplants that have gone to foreign patients in the past.

Embargoed to 0001 Friday July 31

FOREIGNERS FACE BAN ON PAYING FOR TRANSPLANTS

By Jane Kirby, Press Association Health Correspondent

Foreigners will be banned for having organ transplants in the UK as private patients, under new rules being considered by the Government.

Although people from the EU will still be able to join the NHS waiting list for transplants, those paying privately are likely to be stopped from doing so.

The move would apply to all foreigners living outside the UK who wish to pay privately for treatment.

The ban also applies to people from the EU being treated as private patients in the UK owing to financial arrangements between EU governments and individual UK hospitals.

Those contracts will now be agreed on a national basis between the NHS and EU governments, to remove incentives for individual hospitals and surgeons.

The Government in England will seek approval from administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to bring in the ban in October.

The move comes after a scandal broke out earlier this year when it emerged foreigners were receiving transplants from British donors.

The livers of 50 British NHS donors were transplanted into foreign patients over a two-year period, with the bulk of the operations taking place at King's College Hospital and the Royal Free in London.

Of the patients, 40 were from Greece or Cyprus, while the remainder included patients from non-EU countries such as China, Libya and the United Arab Emirates.

Today, Elisabeth Buggins, former chair of the Organ Donation Taskforce, published her independent report into the issue, which was commissioned by former health secretary Alan Johnson.

She said there was no evidence that overseas patients who had paid privately for UK transplants received organs any quicker than British patients on the NHS waiting list.

But she said it was important to improve transparency and not put people off donating their organs after death.

Her recommendations, which have been broadly accepted by the Department of Health, include:

:: Banning all private clinical practice in the UK involving solid organs donated after death within the NHS, from October 1, 2009.

:: Establishing an implementation group to work with NHS Blood and Transplant and commissioners of transplantation to monitor referrals from overseas;

:: Supporting the development of a new liver allocation scheme to build greater transparency into the allocation process.

:: Developing Department of Health guidance for transplant centres to provide clarification on the eligibility criteria for people from abroad.

Health minister Ann Keen said: "I am grateful to Elisabeth Buggins for her work on this important issue.

"We accept her recommendations and will now take these forward to ensure a UK system that is fair and transparent and one which patients and potential donors can have trust and confidence in.

"The report highlights the complexity of European law in this area and we will take immediate action to provide guidance for the transplant community and reassure the public of the integrity of our transplant programme.

"Organ donation is one of medicine's great success stories, transforming thousands of people's lives each year.

"We want as many people as possible who need new organs to have that life saving or life enhancing organ transplant.

"In order for this to happen we want to see donor rates rise from the current 800 to 1,400 donors per year by March 2013 and to do this we need more donors to sign up to the organ donor register."

Ms Buggins said: "This report seeks to make more organs available for UK residents.

"While I found no evidence of wrongdoing in the way organs are allocated to patients there is a perception that private payments may unfairly influence access to transplant, so they must be banned.

"Confidence in the transplant system should increase once money is removed from the equation, decisions are transparent and accountability clear; confidence we know is necessary if the number of organ donors is to rise to match the best in Europe.

"I would encourage everyone to join the organ donor register; a promise that is quick to make and of such lasting benefit to others."

Last year, 3,504 organ transplants were carried out in the UK from 1,844 deceased and living donors.

However, there are currently 8,054 people on the active waiting list for a transplant and a further 2,400 who are currently too ill to join the list.

About 1,000 people a year, or three every day, die while waiting.

Anthony Warrens, spokesman for Kidney Research UK, and a professor of renal and transplantation medicine at Imperial College London, said: "This report highlights the desperate shortage of organ donors, especially for kidneys.

"A total 90% of patients on the waiting list are waiting for a kidney transplant (7,000 patients) and over three million people are at risk of chronic kidney disease.

'All kidneys are precious, so the charity is currently working on ways to make a transplanted kidney work for longer because, generally, they last, on average, for 10 to 15 years.

"We are also working on understanding the public's attitude towards donating so we can address any underlying issues.

"The results of these important studies should help ease the waiting list in the long-term."

mfl 301224 JUL 09
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