HC Deb 04 December 1979 vol 975 cc168-9W
Mr. Chris Patten

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now publish the Lord Smith code of practice for organ transplants; and what action he intends to take to increase the supply of kidneys for transplantation.

Dr. Vaughan

My right hon. Friend has today published the code of practice on the removal of organs for transplantation prepared by a working party under the chairmanship of Lord Smith of Marlow. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

The Lord Smith working party advised that the best way of increasing the supply of kidneys for transplant was to make doctors and nurses more aware of the need for kidneys and the procedures to be followed. The code of practice will do this. We are arranging for it to be widely distributed within the NHS.

The working party also recommended that medical and nurse training programmes should include more about these matters and we are drawing the attention of the medical and nurse training bodies to this recommendation and to the code.

The attitude of the general public towards kidney donation is also crucial. We were most encouraged to see from the Marplan survey that most people interviewed knew about the need for kidneys and sympathised with the idea of the kidney donor card scheme. But we accept that the scheme needs to be improved and more widely publicised.

An "opting-out" system has been suggested as an alternative to the kidney donor card scheme. The Marplan survey showed much strong opposition to the suggestion, even from people who held donor cards and were therefore fully committed to the idea of kidney donation. The Lord Smith working party shared this view. We cannot therefore support the introduction of legislation at this time to permit an "opting-out" system.