Opt-out organ donation to become law by Autumn 2020

19 July 2019, 11:15 | Updated: 19 July 2019, 11:19

An NHS donor card

An opt-out system for organ donation will come into force in Scotland in autumn 2020, the Scottish Government has announced.

Currently, donors must opt in for their organs to be donated, with many people carrying a donor card.

When the new law comes into force, there will be a presumption of consent for organ donation unless a person has indicated that they do not wish to donate.

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said the legislation would help save lives.

The timeline was announced after the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) law received Royal Assent on Thursday.

The legislation includes safeguards to ensure organ donations do not go ahead where it would be against patient wishes.

Adults without capacity to understand deemed authorisation, adults resident in Scotland for under a year and children under 16 will not be subject to deemed authorisation and will only be able to donate if they, or someone on their behalf, explicitly authorises it.

A public awareness campaign lasting at least a year will precede the new law coming into force, to provide information on the changes and what choices people will have.

Mr FitzPatrick said: "Organ and tissue donation can be a life-changing gift.

"Evidence shows that opt-out systems can make a difference as part of a wider package of measures and this Act provides further opportunities to both save and improve lives.

"We will continue to work with key stakeholders and the NHS as we prepare for the introduction of opt-out in autumn 2020 to ensure this legislation is implemented effectively.

"In Scotland there are an average of more than 500 people waiting for an organ transplant at any one time so it's important that we do all we can to improve the lives of those on the waiting list.

"I would encourage people to continue to make a decision about donation, record this on the NHS Organ Donor Register and discuss it with their family."

The Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill was passed at the Scottish Parliament last month by 116 votes to three, with two abstentions.

Similar opt-out legislation was passed by the Welsh Government in 2015.