Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said it will be the Department of Health’s ability to raise awareness around the Organ Donation Bill which will ultimately determine its success.
Ms Bradshaw was speaking after the Bill passed its latest stage in the Assembly today. She said while the Bill was a step closer to completion, more needed to happen to ensure targets were met.
“This amending Bill is just one step of a journey which I hope will see Northern Ireland come to reach the international target rate of 80 per cent transplants from deceased donors. It is evident from elsewhere deemed consent will start the journey but it will not, in and of itself, by any means complete it,” said the South Belfast MLA.
“In evidence to the Committee, this Bill was summarised as part of a journey to normalising organ donation, which is key. Campaigners noted the public are ready, the specialists are ready and the service itself is ready. We have no time to lose.
“However, the most important aspect of this legislation is the element not contained in the equivalent legislation for England, around awareness-raising. We need to have a strong publicity package ready to go immediately for when this legislation is passed, but we also need to recognise this goes beyond just adverts – the experience from countries such as Spain shows beyond doubt it requires investment in education and organisation to deliver increased organ donations.
“Deemed consent will, we need to be clear, make little difference without significant effort around education and awareness. The success of the Bill itself therefore depends on what happens around this after it passes.”