And it has urged the Health Minister to consider increasing the campaign’s budget, as current allocated funding equates to just 20p per Islander – well below the £1.10 per person spent in Wales, which has pioneered the opt-out system in Britain.
The panel said that both recommendations should be adopted to ensure Islanders understand the proposed changes and discuss the issue with their loved ones before a decision has to be made.
The States are due to debate introducing opt-out organ donation – a system of presumed consent where Islanders who do not wish to donate would have to sign up to a register – next month.
If passed it is expected that the law would come into force on 1 July 2019.
The two recommendations form part of a report compiled by the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel, which has been reviewing all aspects of the proposed new system.
Several measures have been written into the draft law to protect vulnerable or at-risk Islanders. This would require consent from a parent or other next of kin for organs to be donated from a person under 16, an adult who was not a resident in Jersey 12 months before they died and an adult who has lacked decision-making capacity for a significant period before they died.
The review of the draft law, carried out by the Health and Social Security Scrutiny panel, found that the proposals would protect vulnerable groups and allows Islanders to opt out if they do not wish to donate their organs.
And under the proposed law, families and next of kin will still be able to prevent a loved one’s organs being donated – even if they have not opted out.
However, in one of its key findings, the panel says a ‘high-profile and sustained public awareness campaign will be essential’ in ensuring Islanders are aware of the change from an opt-in to an opt-out system.
Health Minister Andrew Green has said £20,000 has been allocated for the campaign. But the panel has asked Senator Green to consider increasing the budget after it emerged that Wales spent £3.4 million in 2015 on a campaign to inform residents about the move to an opt-out system – roughly about £1.10 per person.
The report states: ‘A high-profile and sustained public awareness campaign must accompany the introduction of this legislation to ensure that more lives can be saved and enhanced through organ donation. This will also make it more likely that families will discuss this important matter long before the situation ever arises.’
The panel also recommends that the campaign is translated into other languages, particularly Portuguese and Polish, and that it should extend beyond the year prior to the change in the law.
According to latest figures only 14% of Islanders are on the register, compared to 38% in the UK.
Deputy Richard Renouf, chairman of the panel, said: ‘Organ donation saves and enhances lives but it is also an emotive and personal issue. We checked that the law allows people to opt out and also safeguards vulnerable people. The law includes these protections.
‘Unfortunately, Jersey presently has a low rate of organ donation and moving to an opt-out system will not necessarily mean that the rate will increase. For that to happen, organ donation should become an issue which is discussed within families and regularly promoted in public life.’