Malcolm calls on the Health Minister to make tissue donation easier
Question to the Health Minister on tissue donation Malcolm Chisholm (Edinburgh North and Leith) (Lab):
To ask the Scottish Executive whether it will issue an instruction to national health service boards requiring them to give patients the opportunity to donate tissue for research purposes provided proper consent is granted. (S3O-4496)

The Minister for Public Health (Shona Robison):
NHS boards can currently extend that opportunity to living patients when the tissue may have value for research purposes. The importance of having such a policy in place will be included in forthcoming guidance to NHS boards on the collection, storage and use of human tissue for research.

Malcolm Chisholm:
NHS boards can do that, but it does not normally happen. I welcome the Scottish Government's emphasis on patients' rights, but a patient also has a right to ensure that tissue samples from routine tests, procedures or operations are donated for research, if that is what the patient wishes. Why does the Scottish Government not instruct NHS boards to give patients that opportunity?

Shona Robison:
It is recognised that the current procedures relating to the storage and use of tissue in Scotland for research purposes are not all of the same standard; some procedures may fall short of the Human Tissue Authority standards. It would not be prudent to issue guidance on the collection of tissue before the guidance on its storage and use is ready.

As I suggested in my previous answer, discussions on some issues are continuing. I hope that draft guidance for consultation might be circulated among the research community within the next few months. I hope that that offers some reassurance to Malcolm Chisholm..
October 9th 2008, (Column 11686)