Sunday 21 April 2019

Minister urged to allow drivers' organ donation details be shared

Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Transport Minister Shane Ross. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Fianna Fáil has called on Transport Minister Shane Ross to allow healthcare professionals to have access to driver licence information for organ donation.

Senator Mark Daly said inaction by the minister prevented healthcare professionals from knowing if a person was an organ donor or not.

Mr Daly said a number of State agencies currently have access to drivers' licence information.

He said that without access to this information, doctors organising organ transplants are missing out on potential donors.

Mr Ross has blamed Brexit for not being able to "examine the matter in detail" and said the HSE needs to be consulted on this in a response to the Seanad on March 13.

However, Mr Daly has criticised this response and said a simple Ministerial Order needs to be signed.

"There are around 2.6 million driving licence holders in Ireland at the moment," Mr Daly said.

"Since 2013, driving licence applicants have been asked if they would they be willing to be an organ donor.

"However, doctors and medical professionals are currently not allowed to access this information.

"This means that those involved in the facilitation of organ transplants often miss out on potential donors."

In a lengthy response to the Seanad, Mr Ross said that under current EU regulations they would need the permission of the applicant to share such information.

Currently if a person opts into this, a code 115 is printed on the driving licence.

"There is also a risk that people might be reluctant to volunteer to have a code 115 on their driving licence if they had concerns about their data being shared," he said.

Mr Ross said he wanted to hear the views of the HSE on the potential for doctors to be able to look up a list of potential organ donors.

"Currently, in light of other priority commitments and particularly the demands of work in relation to Brexit, the resources have not been available to examine the matter in detail.

"This is something that can and will be considered in the future," he said.

However, Mr Daly said the minister needs to act to save lives.

"The Government allows driving licence details to be shared with other State bodies such as the Courts Service, the Road Safety Authority and the Health and Safety Authority, and most recently Minister Ross allowed access to a private company, E-Flow, to assist the management of the M50."

However, the exact information provided to E-Flow is unclear.

Fianna Fáil's transport spokesman Robert Troy said: "This is an important yet simple change, and I feel the Government's laissez faire approach to this issue is not acceptable."

Irish Independent

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