News story

Driving up organ donations

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

More than 10,000 people in the UK currently need an organ transplant. Of these, 1000 each year will die waiting as there are not enough organs available.

In the UK, 90% of people have expressed their support for organ donation, but only 29% have registered to donate their organs.

Every year, half a million people sign up to the NHS organ donation register through the Driver and Vehicles Licensing Agency (DVLA). The DVLA scheme has seen more than 8.5 million sign up to the NHS organ donation register since 1994. The Government wants to encourage more people applying for licences to sign up to the organ donation scheme.

New drivers will have to answer questions about organ donation before they can complete their driving licence application through the DVLA website.

Expanding on the existing scheme with the DVLA, the Government now hopes to increase registration even further through a number of prompter questions urging people to consider joining up.

Many people who currently apply for a driving licence either miss or ignore the organ donation question. The new page simply requires people to answer the question about joining the register before they can continue with their application.

Anne Milton, Public Health Minister, said: “We want to make it easier for people to sign up to the Organ Donor Register when they apply for their driving licence and encourage everyone to discuss their organ donation wishes with their loved ones.”

New driving licence applicants will need to tick one of three boxes to answer a question on organ donation before they can complete their application:

  • Yes, I would like to register
  • I do not wish to answer this question now
  • I am already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register

It is hoped that the change will double the percentage of people choosing to join the organ donation register when applying for a driving licence. The prompted choice scheme has already been successfully trialled in several US states. In Illinois, the percentage of donors who have registered has increased from 38% to 60% since 2008.

Sally Johnson, Director of Organ Donation and Transplantation at NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), said: “This trial will prompt everyone applying for or renewing their driving licence online to take the positive step and sign up.”