Scotland To Introduce 'Soft' Opt-Out Organ Donation System

9th July 2017

British Medical Association has welcomed the Scottish Government move to introduce a ‘soft’ opt-out system for organ donation, saying it will save and transform people’s lives.

Aileen Campbell, the Scottish Public Health Minister said the Scottish Government would bring forward legislation after 82 per cent of those who responded to a public consultation said they were in favour of the change.

She said the move would be "part of the long-term culture change in attitudes to encourage people to support donation". The move will be part of a package of measures aimed at increasing the number of organ transplants that take place in Scotland every year.

The public consultation received more than 800 responses, including a petition with 18,500 signatures in favour of opt-out.

Anyone who wants to donate his or her organs after death currently has to "opt in" to the system through the donor card scheme. Presently, 45 per cent of the Scottish population have joined the register.

Under a soft opt-out system, people will be supposed to be willing donors unless they have specifically opted out; the ‘soft’ element means that families will still be able to reject permission, but campaigners are confident that the change will lead to more organs being available for donation.

Peter Bennie, the chair of BMA Scottish council said that the Organ transplantation is an area that has seen amazing medical achievements but has not yet reached its full life-saving and life-transforming potential.

He further added that they believe genuine choice over organ donation can be facilitated through a soft opt-out system. If properly implemented, with adequate resources and staff, and backed up by a high profile campaign, an opt-out system could save or transform peoples’ lives.

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