Scottish MPs have voted against bringing forward new legislation which would have seen an "opt-out" organ donation system by 59 to 56. The Transplant Bill, brought forward by Labour's Anne McTaggart, would have seen a "presumed consent" for donations from people after they die unless they purposely opt against it.
The scheme, which is already taking place in Wales but not the rest of the UK, is seen by many MPs in Scotland as a way to "greatly increase the availability of donor organs". There are currently 6,578 patients on the waiting list for an organ transplant in the UK.
However, the amendment to the bill was narrowly rejected by MSPs, including several of those who have had previously backed an 'opt in' campaign, such as Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf.
Other SNP ministers said they will now consider bringing forward their own 'opt-out' bill following fears the original one was scrapped as it was brought forward by a Labour candidate. SNP MSP John Mason claimed on Twitter that Labour whipped the free vote and made it "too party political" which resulted in the loss of support from SNP. He also said the fact that Labour MP for Dumbarton Jackie Baillie MSP had summed up the argument could have swayed some of his colleagues towards scrapping the bill. Manson was one of the 56 MSPs who voted for the amendment.
An SNP spokesperson said: "We commend the aim of the Bill to save more lives through increased donation and transplantation. However, the draft legislation is seriously flawed, and a number of key issues cannot be addressed through minor amendments to wording.
"For example, the provisions regarding Authorised Investigating Persons and proxies both seem integral to the model of presumed consent set out in the Bill, and therefore they could not be removed or altered without rewriting large parts of the Bill in its entirety."
McTaggart said she was "deeply disappointing" that the SNP Government voted down her bill. She added: "NHS Blood and Transplant have stated that moving to 'soft opt-out' would have resulted in 70 extra organ donors annually, which could have saved hundreds of lives every year. The current SNP Government has been in power for nine years and in all this time, has not brought forward any legislation that would've implemented opt-out, whilst some countries have been operating successful opt-out systems for decades."
This article was first published
on February 10, 2016