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This week I spoke in the debate on the future of organ donation here in Wiltshire and across England, with proposals to move from the current system where people opt in, to one where people are assumed to consent with the option to opt out if they wish.
It is a tragedy that 500 people a year die whilst waiting for an organ transplant and of course it is not just those 500 individuals who suffer, but the thousands of friends and family who lose a loved one.
I spoke of my concern that too many believe that the proposed change to the law would solve the organ donation shortage, where similar changes in other countries have had little or no impact and that we need to continue to push for greater investment in donation infrastructure. It is also vital that we provide emotional support and counselling to donors and their families, who often have to make the decision to donate in the most tragic and heartbreaking circumstances. Recent studies have shown that up to 80% of people would donate under the proposed changes, but I stressed the need to ensure we respect individual freedom and make it simple and easy to opt out for those who wish to, for personal, religious or cultural reasons.
Shortly after I became an MP I signed up to become a disability confident employer and have ensured that my office staff undertake regular training and sessions on understanding the needs of and better serving people with a range of disabilities. It was therefore a pleasure to be able to speak on the Parliamentary debate into the economic value of supporting disabled people into work.
In the past year, an additional 100,000 disabled people have joined the workforce which is fantastic, but we must not rest on our laurels, there is still much more to be done to make our society more equal. Finding work for an additional 1% of eligible Employment Support Allowance claimants in 2018/19 would save £240million and provide a boost the economy of £260million. While the financial benefit of getting more disabled people and those with a health condition into work is an obvious one, I believe that the main benefit will be to those people themselves. It is often easy to get swept up in the economic benefits of measures, but I believe the more important point here is that getting more disabled people into work will make our society more equal.
Please do get in touch if you would like to raise any specific concerns with me or would like to book an appointment to speak with me personally about issues you would like support with, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01249 704 465.