Review of organ donation and transplantation programme

Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has announced a review of the current organ and tissue donation and transplantation programme.

Page last updated: 29 May 2015

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Following the Coalition Government’s recent budget allocation of $10 million of new money towards improving organ donation rates in Australia, Assistant Minister for Health Fiona Nash has announced a review of the current organ and tissue donation and transplantation programme, with a specific focus on the role of the Organ and Tissue Authority and the wider health system’s response.

The review will be undertaken by Ernst and Young, and follows a short study by the Department of Health which was also ordered by the Minister.

“Both Coalition and Labor federal governments have made a significant investment in improving Australia’s organ transplant rate,” Minister Nash said.

"Since then Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a national reform agenda for organ and tissue donation in 2008, around $250 million has been invested. However, organ transplant rates have not increased as quickly as intended.

“In 2008, the number of deceased organ donors was 12.1 donors per million population. The 2014 figure was 16.1 donors per million population.

“Increasing Australia’s organ transplantation rate is a complex task. The federal government provides direction and funding but the hospitals are run by the states.

“Less than 1 per cent of people die in circumstances which enable organ donation, which generally requires the person to have died whilst on life support.”

In February, Minister Nash called for registered donors to have that vital conversation with their families, to try to ensure the wish to donate organs is honoured by the family in the event the registered donor dies in circumstances which enable organ donation.

“Organ donation is an issue for the whole community and we need the whole community, including governments, to do absolutely everything possible. As such, we need to take a good look at what’s working and what isn’t; what’s successful and where we can improve.

"In the recent budget, we allocated $10 million of new money to improve organ transplant rates through several initiatives which we believe will have a very positive impact. I'll have more to say about the details of that soon.

“Significant funding has been made available to hospitals and to state and territory health authorities to help them make sure as many opportunities as possible are converted to organ transplants.

“The Federal Government has also invested in the national coordination effort through the independent Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority (OTA).

“I have spoken to many stakeholders for some time about ways to improve organ donation and transplantation outcomes.

"Following the Australian National Audit Office review of the OTA, which began in July 2014, I asked the Department of Health to undertake a preliminary examination of organ donation. The Department reported back recommending a review of the current organ and tissue donation and transplantation programme, with a specific focus on the role of the Organ and Tissue Authority and the wider health system’s response.

"Ernst and Young will begin their work in June and a report to me in early August.

“Our aim will be to make improvements to boost Australia’s performance in this important area and to maximise the benefits from our already significant investment in this space.”

Media contact: Les White 0409 805 122 les.white@health.gov.au

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