The latest news from the Human Tissue Authority
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Change in organ donation law


As you may already be aware, the Organ Donation (Deemed Consent) Bill, also known as the 'opt-out’ Bill, is now an Act of Parliament (law). Under this new system, everyone will be considered a potential organ and tissue donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate, or if they are in one of the excluded groups. This includes people who are under 18 years old and those who lack mental capacity. Although the Bill is now law, the system will not come into effect until spring 2020.

NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) has launched a year-long national campaign, ‘Pass It On’, to increase public awareness and understanding of the new system. It will also explain the choices available, and encourages people to make a decision and share this with their family.

As the HTA regulates all establishments in the UK which undertake organ retrieval for transplantation, we contributed towards their campaign's material and messaging.

We will also share information to generate public awareness on the forthcoming changes. In particular, we will be developing guidance aimed at the public on what their consent means under the new law.

Scotland is moving towards an opt-out system

After debating the Human Tissue (Authorisation) (Scotland) Bill on 11 June, the Bill to move Scotland to an 'opt-out' system passed its final stage. It will most likely receive Royal Assent in the Summer and also become law. 
Find out more

Department of Health and Social Care's consultation on tissues and organs that should be excluded from the opt-out system

The Department of Health and Social Care has  launched a public consultation which seeks your views on whether certain organs and tissues should be excluded from the new opt-out organ donation system.

This would mean that transplants of certain organs and tissues will still need consent. The consultation closes on Monday 22 July.
Have your say!

NHS Blood and Transplant's new stem cell partnership

The NHS Blood and Transplant Therapeutic Apheresis Services (TAS) unit specialises in state-of-the art treatments for rare diseases, and is based within Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. It is the first and only NHS centre to provide collection centre services for donors from all three stem cell and bone marrow registries operating in England. This includes the British Bone Marrow Registry, Anthony Nolan, and DKMS.

What is the HTA’s role in this area?

The HTA regulates all establishments in the UK that undertake the collection, testing, processing, storage, distribution, import and export of tissues and cells used for patient treatment (or human application). Our regulation makes sure that the tissues and cells that are used for the treatment for patients are used safely and are of high quality.

The HTA is also responsible for giving approval in cases where a bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donor are unable to consent for themselves. This can be where the donor is a child who lacks the competence to consent, or an adult that lacks the capacity to give consent.

In these cases, Accredited Assessors interview the donor, person(s) consenting on the donor’s behalf, and recipient. Accredited Assessors are trained and accredited by the HTA. They ensure that the donor is not being asked to do something against their wishes, that no reward has been sought or offered, and that the person consenting on the donor’s behalf has the capacity to make an informed decision. 

Intensive care journey and deceased organ donation

NHSBT has produced a document on the journey through intensive care and the gift of organ donation. It summarises the possible journey of a person suffering a life-threatening injury through to intensive care, which may potentially lead to deceased organ donation.

Interested to find out more about establishments that store and use donated bodies?


All establishments licensed in our Anatomy, Post Mortem, Public Display and Research sectors must complete a questionnaire once every two years, providing updates on their activities.

In October 2017, we completed the last collection of compliance updates for the Anatomy sector, who are organisations that store and used donated bodies to train medical students. We have developed a short report on our findings. This ‘snapshot’ report shows the key trends and themes we found. 

Find out more

Update on the HTA body donor cards


We would like to thank those of you that had completed our survey on whether people still find body donor cards useful.

What are body donor cards?

Body donor cards can be carried in your pocket, purse or wallet. By carrying a card, others can identify you as a potential body donor. By including the contact details of the medical school that you have registered with, others will know who to contact.

Although these cards represent your decision and wish to become a body donor, they are not official documents. This means that it does not replace the medical school's consent process or guarantee that they will accept your donation. 

If you have already registered with a medical school to become a body donor and would like a body donor card, please email us with your name and contact details, and we can post you one.

Survey feedback

All but one respondent felt that body donor cards are useful. The majority also said that they would carry a card. Taking your feedback on board, we will be raising awareness of body donor cards through our online channels. We will also be looking at the possibility of having digital templates of these cards for medical schools to use. 

Another suggestion was to reduce the size of our current cards, which we will be reviewing. We will keep you updated.

HTA activity


HTA public Authority meeting: Thursday 9 May

We hosted a successful public Authority meeting early last month. These meetings are held every year as part of our commitment to honesty, openness and transparency. We welcomed members of the public to observe how the HTA Board (Authority Members) and senior management team discuss how the HTA works. To see what topics were covered on the day, please read our HTA meeting pack.


Academy of Medical Sciences' Departure Lounge: Friday 10 May - Friday 7 June

In May, the Academy of Medical Sciences launched the Departure Lounge. This was an installation, modelled as an airport departure lounge in Lewisham shopping centreThe aim of this was to encourage people to talk about death and dying. Visitors shared their thoughts and spoke to a diverse mix of researchers and professionals with experience of death and dying. The HTA participated in the project’s content advisory group, to advise on its development.

Want to know what the seven most common questions from the visitors were? 

HTA webinar: Our regulation of the Post Mortem sector

To support Dying Matters Awareness week, our Regulation Managers hosted a webinar explaining our role to the public. The session explored how we make sure mortuaries operate to high standards, to support those who are bereaved and are affected by a post-mortem examination. It also provided information on how we regulate body, organ and tissue donation.

Thank you to everyone who participated on the day. We hope you enjoyed it.

If you didn’t get a chance to see the presentation live, you can watch it on our YouTube channel.

Launch of the HTA Blog

We are pleased to announce the launch of the new HTA blog

Our Director of Regulatory Delivery, Nicolette Harrison, wrote our first blog on the HTA’s role and how we came about.

Why should you follow our blog?

Our blog will promote new and unique views on key issues relating to our work. It will also allow us to:
  • Share interesting articles from HTA staff, our Authority Members, and those directly affected by our regulation.
  • Be more interactive with those who have an interest in the HTA and what we do.
  • Offer you a way to share your views with us.
You can access the blog on the homepage of our website.

Keep up to date!

Sign up to follow our series of blogs and receive notifications of any new posts. You can also follow a specific blog post, and receive updates when new comments are added.

Please let us know of any suggestions for blog topics that would interest you.

Health Research Authority's 'Make It Public' consultation 

Who are the HRA

The Health Research Authority (HRA) regulates health and social care research. Like the HTA, they protect and promote the interests of patients and the public. They make sure that research is ethically reviewed and approved, promote transparency, and provide expert advice on the use of confidential patient information. 

The 'Make It Public' consultation

The HRA has launched a 12-week consultation seeking comments on their draft strategy, 'Make It Public.' The strategy covers health and social care research taking place in the UK which involves people, their tissue, or their personal data.

The underlying principle of this strategy is that everyone benefits when research is carried out openly and transparently. It is therefore important to gather the views of everyone involved. This includes patients, researchers, and ... you! 

You can contribute by taking part in an online survey, or by attending one of their face-to-face workshops. More information is available on the HRA's website.

Your feedback will ensure that the final strategy provides clear direction on how to make sure that patients, the public and professionals can easily access useful and clear information about research studies and its findings.  


What do you think?

Join our public panel

As a newsletter subscriber, we know the work of the HTA is important to you.
You can play a part in improving our work by joining our public panel. In doing so, you will help us to produce useful information for the public, so that we can better inform people of our work which is to ensure that human tissue and organs are used safely, ethically, and with proper consent.

Taking part is easy

We may require your feedback when publishing new material. This could be a guide to a new medical technique that people are talking about, an update to our policies, or anything else that we would like your opinion on. Recently, we collaborated with our public panel to create information on cryonics - the cryopreservation of bodies after death.

We are not looking for experts, your honest feedback helps us to communicate clearly and share information that is easy to find and understand. There's no obligation, you can choose when you'd like to give us your feedback.

Join our public panel
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