Saturday, March 23, 2013

Just One True Cost of Welsh Organ Donation Change

The Welsh Government continues to press on with its misguided proposal to change the organ donation system in Wales from one based on opting-in to one based on opting-out. This action is causing real distress in the Dep't of Health, and amongst all the people involved in the donation system that I have discussed it with. It will cause great damage to the integrity of the National Assembly for Wales itself. It leaves me and people who agree with me about this issue wanting to reverse devolution of health back to Westminster! This policy is going to go badly wrong and its very vulnerable people who will be paying the price.

Lets look at just one aspect of this in this post. Fundamental to the policy change is that everyone in Wales is required to know about it for it to be legal. So must everybody who moves into Wales. The requirement under the European Convention on Human Rights is that individuals are fully aware of the need to consent or object, and be fully aware of the consequences. The people of Britain know that we have an opt-in system. Over the decades, billions have gone into promoting it. The cost of instilling knowledge of the change into the population of Wales (as well as those moving into Wales) is in my view unachievable, and it is one I believe the Assembly Gov't has seriously underestimated.

In a recent Assembly Health Committee Meeting, Ministers were questioned about the mere £2.9 million pounds sidelined to implement this policy. This is peanuts - and very small peanuts at that. The previous Assembly Health Minister, Lesley Griffiths, the Minister has claimed that the figure is appropriate and that the she reached that conclusion based on the campaign to raise the awareness of the smoking ban. These are completely different issues. The smoking ban attracted national media attention, was discussed in every pub and club, on every shop floor and at every dinner table. The change to organ donation is a subtle and complex change to a law covering a highly emotive subject that will undoubtedly leave many in our communities with no idea what the law is. What really bothers me is that I really don't think the Assembly Gov't cares. It just wants to push the law through - to hell with the consequences. Never felt more disappointed that I lost my seat in the Assembly. Rosemary Butler would have her work cut out controlling me when ever this issue cropped up.

£2.9 million pounds will fail miserably to inform the population of Wales of this important change - won't even scratch the surface. Done a few sums of my own to demonstrate lack of realism. Recently ITV ran a brilliant week long campaign ‘Heart to heart’ to promote organ donation. It resulted in around 120,000 people signing up to the opt-in register - a fantastic achievement. I asked ITV how much it would’ve cost to produce and broadcast the campaign - what was the value of the promotion. Answer was, without exaggeration, ‘you simply cannot put a cost on it’. But I have tried - on the basis that a 30 second advert at prime-time costs £51,000. A two hour programme at this rate would cost almost £12.5 million - though I suppose there might be a quantity discount.. In addition to the two hour programme, there were dozens of national news bulletins, features on Daybreak, on This Morning, on Loose Women and a 30 minute programme focusing on organ donation for viewers in Wales. We're talking £100 million plus - which tells me the cost of an effective campaign is completely unachievable
One problem those of us who oppose this misguided change is that the Welsh Gov't has invested heavily in it politically. They cannot back down. They will be looking for ways to justify what they are doing. One hope is that a new Health Minister has been appointed, Mark Drakeford, who I'm told is a very sharp cookie. I know he's been receiving evidence about issues like the shocking disinformation that was included in the consultation document. I was copied in. If he's as good as I'm told he is, he might just find a way of stopping the madness before it goes further. I really do hope so.


Anonymous said...

I am personally pro the opt out system (just because of what a surgeon once told me)

But have found it hard whether the WG can justify introducing it. Whether there should be a referendum etc.

But this morning I thought I'd google the Labour Manifesto for 2011. Is states:
"We will introduce an Assembly Bill
in order to move to an ‘opt out’
system of donation, backed up by
a comprehensive communication

Unfortunately for those who are against the opt out system. I genuinely think (for once!) that the WG are wholly justified in going ahead with this. The people of Wales voted for them and gave them this mandate.

Anonymous said...

...on a related issue Glyn.

In some English cities they have 'give blood centres' where they take blood 5 days a week.

Here in rural Wales we have to wait for a van to come around. I want to give blood, but have never had the chance either:
a) I work on the day the van comes or
b) it is full.

I was just wondering- why can't our community hospitals become a 'give blood centre' so that people like me can just turn up when I want?

I'm not sure if anybody has ever looked into this or whether it is logistically possible (it may not be- I've no idea what the give blood process entails and what skills any worker needs).

An idea?

Anonymous said... is a map of where the blood centres are- non in Wales!

Glyn Davies said...

I know that the Labour Party had this in its manifesto, and they made something of it at the referendum into law making powers for the Assembly. I have always thought the Labour Party in Wales is wrong on this. Not sure who the surgeon you talked to was, but all the specialist consultants I talk to take a different view. For what its worth I think the Welsh Gov't will do this, and it will fail.

Cait O'Connor said...

I entirely agree with you on your thoughts re. organ donation.

It is totally unethical for the state to presume anything on my behalf and for me to have to object to this law to escape dissection.

You have to be 18 to object a 17 year old (or younger!) could be cut up if there was no-one around to object - no relatives - which is entirely possible.

And as you say there will be plenty without the ability to object for so many reasons.

Also the cost involved in administering this law will be horrendous and I thought the country was broke.

It can only be legal if everyone knows about it. How can it ever be proved in law that everyone knows about it?

I may have considered donating voluntarily, I MAY have. But now I am entirely ANTI because of the presumption of politicians.

Also with the privatisation of NHS looming and slowly happening (!) I can envisage prices for organs encouraging Welsh hospitals to give up trying to save accident victims or whatever and seeing pound notes in all the organs they can flog off!