In September 2010, the National Institute for Health & Clinical Excellence (NICE) began work on producing a clinical guideline relating to organ donation which, when published, will provide evidence-based recommendations to the NHS on the management of organ donation. The Department of Health has asked NICE to produce a clinical guideline in improving donor identification and consent rates for cadaveric organ donation. The guideline will aim to address current inequalities by helping to make organ donation a usual part of NHS practice, meaning that families of all potential organ donors are approached and supported, irrespective of factors such as ethnicity and religion.

This NICE guideline aims to address four key clinical questions which relate to:  

  • the structures and processes for identifying potential donation following brain-stem death and donation following cardiac death;
  • structures and processes for obtaining consent for cadaveric organ donation for transplantation, including the optimum timing for approaching the families for consent;
  • coordination of the care pathway for conversion of potential donors to actual donors; and
  • competencies of health care professionals involved in the activities relating to the donation process.

The proposed guideline is being circulated for consultation, to allow all key stakeholders the opportunity to make comments on the subsequent recommendations and closes on 16 March 2011.

It is envisaged that this NICE guideline, when published, will help to formulate a further strategy for enabling the UK to address the burden of disease by increasing the availability of organs for transplant.