A report from the organ donation taskforce, published last week, concluded that, in all but the largest trusts, critical care staff lacked awareness about donation and the procedures around it.
Included in the report’s 14 recommendations, designed to increase donations by 50%, are calls for ongoing mandatory training of all clinical staff involved in the treatment of potential donors and a doubling of the number of donor transplant coordinators (DTCs).
‘Everyone in the NHS needs to play their part and, for medical and nursing staff, identifying donors should become part and parcel of what they do on a daily basis,’ said Sue Falvey, director of donor care and coordination at UK Transplant.
Mandy Motley, staff nurse at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, added: ‘Our coordinator is often doing 20-hour stretches at a time, so more training would be good because we could undertake part of their role.’
The recommendations also call for an overhaul of the DTC role, which is undertaken by approximately 100 nurses across the UK. They are often required to work continuously for more than 24 hours.
The report warns the situation is increasingly unsustainable, with local pressures such as cost savings and redeployment of nursing staff ‘threatening the integrity of the national network’, and individual DTCs unable to devote adequate attention to all stages of the process because of the extent of the role.
It suggests the role could be split because of the difficulty in recruiting enough nurse specialists, with the possibility of non-nursing staff taking on the job of approaching and supporting the donor’s family.
Deirdre Cunningham, DTC team leader for the East Midlands, said transplant nurses had been calling for the changes for a long time.
‘We’ve been very stretched. For example, I did a 36-hour shift on Friday and that’s just too much,’ she said.
The government said it fully endorsed the report’s recommendations.