HC Deb 07 February 1978 vol 943 cc1214-6
3. Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further steps he proposes to take to assist kidney patients who can benefit from machines and transplants.

Mr. Ennals

I have this year made available development funds to assist regions in the development of paediatric dialysis facilities.

I am glad to announce today that I propose to make available a further £1 million of special medical development moneys over the next three years to enable a small number of limited care dialysis units to be established.

I am concerned about the continuing shortage of donor kidneys for transplantation and have decided to launch a kidney donor card publicity campaign within the next few months.

Mr. Ashley

I warmly welcome the reply, which deserves congratulations. Does the Secretary of State agree that two further measures that would improve the situation would be the Government's acceptance of an opting-out system of the kidney donor scheme rather than an opting-in system, and their making the attendance allowance available for all kidney patients on the home dialysis scheme?

Mr. Ennals

There is a Question on the Order Paper relating to the second part of my hon. Friend's question. The matter of opting out is something about which we need to assess public opinion. I propose shortly to introduce a discussion document in order to stimulate a widespread debate. There needs to be much more education among the public and acceptance by doctors of the importance of making kidneys available for transplant.

Mr. Hannam

Does the Secretary of State actually carry a kidney donor card himself? What is he going to do to ensure the distribution of cards to all the population?

Mr. Ennals

The answer to the first part of the question is "Yes". I hope that the same can be said for every other Member of Parliament. If it cannot be so said, I take this opportunity of appealing to you, Mr. Speaker, to Members of Parliament, and to all Officers of the House and the general public to carry a card, because the knowledge that I and many millions of others are prepared to have our kidneys made available would persuade more donors to come forward.

Mr. Dalyell

Why should kidney donor cards be any more successful in producing kidneys in the future than they have been in the past?

Mr. Ennals

They are successful at the moment. I am happy to say that over the last year the total number of patients maintained on dialysis has risen by 10 per cent. There has also been a 14 per cent. increase in the number of transplants taking place. The increase was substantially because more kidneys were available for transplantation and there is no doubt that publicity is working.

Mr. Newton

Is the Minister aware that we very much welcome what he said about child dialysis facilities? Will he tell us what response he has had from regional health authorities on the question whether this will enable them to meet the needs of all children who could benefit? Will he say what further steps he proposes to take to bring about a proper national policy?

Mr. Ennals

I hope that the offer that I have made to the regions will mean that almost all children will be able to have that form of treatment. So far, seven of the regional health authorities have indicated that they are considering making a bid for those funds, and firm bids have now been received from four of those regions.

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