WATCH: Jeremy Corbyn backs bid to introduce an ‘opt-out’ system for organ donation

Posted On: 
23rd February 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has thrown his weight behind a bid to create an opt-out system for organ donation.

PA Images

In a surprise move, the Labour leader intervened in a Commons debate on a private member’s bill brought by Labour backbencher Geoffrey Robinson.

The draft law, which is backed by the Government, seeks to create an ‘opt-out’ system which would see people automatically enrolled as organ donors unless they choose to remove themselves from the register. 

Geoffrey Robinson: The Organ Donation Bill can save lives – but we need MPs' support

Dan Jarvis MP: Don't 'opt-out' from saving lives - England needs a new organ donation system

NHS Blood and Transplant tackles consent rates in order to rival the deceased organ donation records of the best countries in the world

Under the current system, organs are only donated if express permission has been given. The NHS has said that the change could save up to 500 lives per year by making more organs available for life-saving transplants.

As the bill was debated in the Commons today, Mr Corbyn intervened to thank Mr Robinson for raising the bill, and urged the House to back the plans.

He said: "It's wonderful that he's got this bill introduced and I hope today this House can pass it and thus save an awful lot of people's lives in the future."

Mr Robinson went on to thank both the Prime Minister and the Labour leader for their backing, saying: "I’ve seldom seen such a unanimous range of support for a bill."

Writing for the House Magazine, the Labour MP said that 5000 people were currently waiting on transplant lists in England, and that 457 people had died in the past year while waiting for a new organ.

He said that the bill alone was “not a silver bullet”, and that one of the principal aims of the bill was to encourage families to have discussions around organ donation so that people’s wishes can be carried out properly.

Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price has pledged the support of the Department of Health and Social Care, who are currently undertaking a public consultation into the issue, and has pledged to work closely with Mr Robinson to ensure the bill is delivered.

Mr Robinson told Sky News that the creation of the new system “is a big social change, it is a big moral change” but he also stressed that those who do not want to be on the register will find it easy to opt-out.

The Department of Health and Social Care's public consultation on the issue closes on 6 March.