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Organ donation office requires ‘stronger governance role’

By Mindo - 19th Mar 2020

The HSE’s Organ Donation and Transplant Ireland (ODTI) requires a “stronger governance role” regarding oversight of funding and transplant centres’ performance, Director Prof Jim Egan has said.

According to minutes of an ODTI and the Department of Health meeting on 12 November, “Prof Egan expressed the view that the ODTI needs a stronger governance role. Difficulties experienced by the ODTI in relation to oversight of funding and performance in transplant centres were discussed.

“The ODTI indicated that they are reviewing NHSBT’s terms of reference with a view to developing its own,” stated the minutes, obtained from the Department under Freedom of Information law.

Last month, an ODTI spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI): “This is under discussion with the Department of Health.”

In correspondence on 21 November, Prof Egan wrote to Mr Michael Conroy, Principal Officer at the Department’s Cancer, Blood and Organs Policy Unit, to advise that the Human Tissue Bill would raise “practical governance issues from a safety and quality perspective”.

Prof Egan continued: “I am concerned that the current traditional mechanisms of engagement are inadequate for challenges in the future. I am reminded of the recent challenges we have in terms of provision of pancreas transplant services”, which only recently resumed 24/7 operation.

Mr Conroy responded that the enactment of the proposed legislation “would strengthen patient safety and quality in relation to organ donation and transplantation” and that the issue could be discussed at their next monthly meeting, or earlier.

In comments issued in February, ODTI’s spokesperson informed MI that discussions regarding governance structures were ongoing.

Among other aspects, the Bill will provide general conditions for the removal, donation and use of organs and tissues from deceased and living persons for the purposes of transplantation; and provide for an opt-out system of consent for organ donation, and for an associated register.

It remains unclear what aspects of the Bill, such as an opt-out register, may be pursued by the next Government.

The Irish Kidney Association has consistently argued that appointment of specialist personnel is the most important aspect of boosting donation and transplant. It has also advocated for the inclusion of a ‘yes’ registry, if the opt-out registry goes ahead.   

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