Licences to drive up organ donation

Published on Monday, 01 August 2011 09:33
Posted by Scott Buckler

From today (Monday 1 August), people will have to answer questions about organ donation before they can complete their driving licence application through the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website


The new initiative to encourage people to think about organ donation and drive up numbers on the organ donor register has been launched by Public Health Minister Anne Milton.

Expanding on an existing scheme with the DVLA which has seen more than 8.5 million people sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register, the Government now hopes to increase registration even further through a number of prompter questions urging people to consider joining up.

Anne Milton said:

"Being an organ donor is a truly selfless act and a life saving gift to someone in need. Only 29 per cent of people in the UK have registered to donate organs, when we know 90 per cent of people in the UK have expressed interest in donating.

"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. The changes to the DVLA website will do just that but you don't have to wait. Anyone can sign up today by filling a form online at or calling 0300 123 23 23."

Driving licence applicants will have 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; or
• I am already registered on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

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.

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 per cent to 60 per cent 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.
“Around 8,000 people in the UK are actively waiting for a transplant and around 1,000 people die each year while waiting or because they have become too ill and are removed from the list.
“Our focus is to encourage even more people to join the NHS Organ Donor Register. Anyone signing up is urged to discuss their wishes with family and friends to ensure they will support their wishes when the time comes.”

Currently, there are around one million new registrations every year to the organ donation register and half of them come through the DVLA.

Transport Minister Mike Penning praised the initiative:

I fully support this initiative to encourage more people to register as organ donors. The DVLA’s driving licence application is already the most common route used by people to register as an organ donor and this should help further boost the numbers.”

The organ donation initiative is a good example of how the Department of Health and the new Behavioural Insights Team at the Cabinet Office have been working together to support improvements in health outcomes, drawing on insights from behavioural science. It show ways in which health improvements can be made without requiring legislation.

Source: DH

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