Organ donated 'nudge' for drivers in new DVLA process

  • 31 July 2011
  • From the section Health
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Kidneys in jars
Image caption Less than a third of people are registered as organ donors

Drivers will have to state whether they want to be an organ donor when they apply for a new or replacement licence.

The move has been put forward by the government's "nudge unit", which has been set up to encourage changes in behaviour through gentle persuasion.

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency already asks if applicants want to be donors - but from Monday an online form will require that the answer is stated.

Ministers hope it will help improve organ donation rates.

Less than a third of people are signed up to be organ donors - despite research suggesting that nine in 10 would he happy to be one.


The situation has prompted much debate in recent years about how best to improve rates.

Some have called for presumed consent, where it is assumed an individual wishes to be a donor unless he or she has opted out by registering their objection.

The government has so far rejected presumed consent and instead the Cabinet Office's behavioural insight team has suggested the driving licence idea as part of its "nudge" drive.

The DVLA's existing scheme is already responsible for about half of the 1m new donor registrations each year.

As well as becoming compulsory to answer the question, the section will be moved from the end to the start of the DVLA process, so when applicants from England, Wales and Scotland apply for new or replacement licences they will have to say whether they want to become an organ donor or not.

When a similar scheme was introduced in the US state of Illinois, donor registration jumped from 38% to 60%.

Public health minister Anne Milton said the move was aimed at encouraging people to discuss the issue more and make it easier for them to sign up.

"Being an organ donor is a truly selfless act and a life-saving gift to someone in need," she added.

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