My Central Fife Times Column for the 2nd of October 2014: Scottish Independence Referendum & Proposed Opt Out of Organ Donation.

LAST week I spoke in the First Minister’s debate on the outcome of the Referendum and gave my view that the outcome was not about who won and who lost as I believe that all 3.6 million people who voted are the winners.

We are all winners for we all voted for change, we were all promised change and it is now I believe up to us to use the momentum of the debate and outcome to drive change. But, I also made the point that as new powers come into the Parliament next year and then the outcome of the current negotiation brings further devolution we have to move beyond the constitution and focus on power for a purpose, the purpose of achieving a more socially just and fair Scotland.

I said before the vote on the 18th that regardless of the result there was no magic wand and indeed the continued focus on the constitution had the effect of removing any policy discussion or commitment from any of the political parties to addressing the actual issues that will determine whether or not Scotland is a better more fairer and more just country. I will be working to focus the debate onto the issues around tax and spend, education, skills and employment, the NHS and social care, poor housing and a shortage of housing, the centralisation of local government and a new politics of openness and transparency that engages communities in determining the priorities and actions of government. If we cannot move beyond the constitutional debate then I fear we will make little progress in tackling the issues that make a difference in people’s lives.

Draft proposal for legislation on ‘Organ and Tissue Donations’

This week Anne McTaggart MSP launched a consultation on a draft proposal for legislation which seeks to canvass views on changing the system of organ and tissue donation registration from an opt-in system to a soft opt-out system in Scotland. The basis of the proposed soft opt-out system would be that organs and tissues could be removed posthumously from an adult whom had not registered or expressed an objection during their lifetime. This is in contrast to the current opt-in system of organ and tissue donation whereby those wishing to become a donor are encouraged to register on the NHS Organ Donation Register.

The key features of the soft opt-out system proposed are: All adults aged 16 or over who reside in Scotland would have the right to register an objection to some or all of their organs being used for transplantation after their deaths, the family of a deceased person will be consulted at the time of death to establish any objection of the deceased that had not been registered, young persons under 16 years not covered by the opt-out system will continue to be able to opt in as potential donors and the proposal will only cover donation of organs and tissue for transplantation; uses for research or other purposes will not be covered.

Each day three people in the UK die waiting for a transplant and research shows organ donation rates increases by approximately 25-30% in countries where an opt-out system is introduced. Information and the opportunity to comment on this proposal can be found on the Parliament’s web site.

The legislation for the new Community Empowerment (Scotland) Bill is now making its way through Parliament. The Bill seeks to reform areas such as community planning, community right to buy land, involvement of communities in public service delivery and communities taking on public assets. I discuss the Bill further on my website.

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Post Author: Alex Rowley