A declaration in favour of opt-out organ donation has been made by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) – who previously supported the opposing opt-in system.
As long as ‘certain safeguards, supports and resources are in place’ the RCN is in ‘qualified support’ of the new system after surveying their members on this issue for the first time in a decade.
‘The matter of organ and tissue donation is a sensitive and complex one, but the response from RCN members clearly supports the move to an opt-out system with conditions attached,’ said committee chair, Melanie Johnson.
‘The survey shows our members understand the issues at play in attempts to increase donations, and with almost 90% saying we need more donors there is still much to do.’
With members in clear majority (71% of 7700 nurses) in favour of opt-out, the RCN stipulated some requirements including a limitation to adult-only donations, the implementation of awareness and education programmes, and thorough engagement with possible donor families.
The RCN has also called on governments putting these schemes into action to invest more in specialist nurses who will be vital to the effectiveness of future organ donations.
The debate continues over legislation in England with a private member’s bill currently in Westminster that will bring England into line with Wales where a soft opt-out scheme has been in place since 2015.
A soft opt-out system is where patients are assumed to have agreed to donate useful organs unless their families have strongly objected.
The implementation of this system in Wales lead to an increase in organ donations and in the number of families agreeing to the system - only 6% of Welsh people opted out.
Scotland is expected to introduce similar legislation in the coming months, however, the same cannot be said for Northern Ireland whose Bill failed in 2016 – work is currently at hand to increase donations by other means.
The RCN has said that their members in Northern Ireland, who voted 73% in favour of opt-out, will have their views ‘help shape’ new proposals to increase donations.