Doctors expressed their disappointment today that the UK lags far behind other European countries in the level of organ donation, and called on UK governments to do more to increase awareness about the importance of this issue.
Commenting on the House of Lords European Union Committee report on organ donation, the chairman of the BMA's Medical Ethics Committee, Dr Tony Calland, said:
"We are very disappointed to see how far the UK lags behind some other European countries when it comes to organ donation. We agree with today's report that more needs to be done to encourage people to sign the organ donor register.
"The report's conclusion that Spain's success in achieving high levels of organ donation can be partly attributed to effective organisation and very good selection and training of staff is correct - we urgently need to mirror this in the UK.
"We feel that there needs to be a two pronged strategy to increase organ donation. On one level, systems and structures need to be vastly improved, for example organ donation needs to be promoted to the general public. We need more intensive care beds to cope with increased demand, and there needs to be expansion in the numbers of doctors and other staff involved in this field.
"At the same time we need to work towards creating an environment in which a move to a system of presumed consent with safeguards eventually could work. We could only move to a system of presumed consent once improved infrastructure and training is in place."
The BMA is committed to increasing the number of organs available. The BMA will respond fully to the UK Government's Task Force's second report on organ donation which is due to be released later in the year.