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The Jeanette Crizzle Trust has commissioned research through annual reports in 2008 and 2009, as well as the specific piece of research following the letter sent out by the Secretaries of State. The latest research shows that
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of 512 schools surveyed, only 22 per cent. of teachers are aware of the programme, which is no change on the first year. Some 18 per cent. said that they had received the pack, which is more than the 11 per cent. in the first year, but only 7 per cent. said that they had used the resource. That is hugely disappointing given the award-winning nature of the programme that the Government put together. In October, the Minister of State, Department of Health, the hon. Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron), wrote to Mr. Crizzle to say that as far as the Department was concerned, 68 per cent. of secondary school teachers had ordered the pack. That may or may not be true, but the Jeanette Crizzle Trust's research suggested that only 7 per cent. were actually using the programme.

The Department of Health recognises the economic case for increased organ donation, and I am sure that we will hear in a minute of the wonderful things that it is doing to promote it across the country, not least because transplantation could save the NHS something like £150 million a year by reducing dialysis costs. In the correspondence with Mr. Crizzle, the Minister of State said:

the work of NHS Blood and Transplant-

However, Mr. Crizzle and the trust are concerned that the Department is relying too much on the figure of 68 per cent. of schools having ordered the pack. In a letter to the Minister of State last month, he wrote that

The Government say that 33 per cent. of teachers have taught the programme using the resource, but Mr. Crizzle pointed out that that

In the research conducted to see whether schools had received the letter from the two Secretaries of State, head teachers unanimously said that they had no intention of launching the programme and, according to Mr. Crizzle, gave the following reasons:

and finally:

Mr. Crizzle's letter concluded:

I conclude where I started, by congratulating the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families on getting the scheme under way. It is a wonderful programme. But I ask them to please, please put far more emphasis on promoting it. We need to get every school in the land involved, so that we can encourage more donors to come forward. It is a wonderful idea, and I ask Her Majesty's Government to promote it far more.

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6.18 pm

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ann Keen): I start by thanking the hon. Member for Kettering (Mr. Hollobone) for securing the debate and the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone) for his important intervention. I recognise the admirable work of the hon. Member for Kettering in supporting Adam Crizzle, who, as he described, has campaigned tirelessly to raise young people's awareness of donation since the very sad death of his wife Jeanette. I was sad to hear of her having died in such unfortunate and tragic circumstances, having given so much to her community as a teacher.

All forms of donation are important, which makes the role of NHSBT, as the special health authority responsible for ensuring the supply of blood, organs, stem cells and tissue for patients, so crucial. It saves lives every single day, and we should all be thankful for it. NHSBT needs to collect 7,000 units of blood every day to ensure that patients have access to life-saving blood and products when they are needed. However, in order to secure the blood supply to hospitals and patients, 350,000 new blood donors must be recruited every year to replace those who have had to stop donating. Thanks to the efforts of the National Blood Service and the altruism of existing donors, there has not been a shortage of blood in the UK for many years.

The Government are proud of the support we provide to NHSBT, and committed to continuing that in future years. That includes initiatives such as the Give and Let Live campaign, to which the hon. Member for Kettering referred. Designed to raise awareness among young people of the importance of donating, Give and Let Live is an award-winning educational resource pack produced by NHSBT. Developed to be delivered by teachers as part of personal health and social education, science studies or religious education, it is aimed at 14 to 16-year-olds. Since its launch in September 2007, it has been made available to 6,000 state and independent schools across the UK.

The independent evaluation of that programme showed that, as of September 2009, 68 per cent. of secondary schools have ordered the pack. Promoting altruistic donation to young people, who will be the donors of tomorrow, is not just good for patients who need transplants but exceptionally good for our society.

Other initiatives are being considered. My Department and the Department for Children, Schools and Families are considering how best to raise awareness of the various forms of donation among children and young people. Another education programme, Register and Be a Lifesaver, which has worked with the Give and Let Live campaign, has just completed a successful pilot phase. Delivered in partnership with the Anthony Nolan Trust, a key third-sector partner in so much of this work, the programme was set up following a campaign by the journalist Adrian Sudbury, who died of leukaemia and used the last months of his life to campaign for greater awareness of donation. It targets 16 to 18-year-olds and seeks to empower young people to make their own decisions on becoming a donor.

However, it is not always easy to meet the needs of everyone and provide treatment to all those who need it. That is especially so when we are trying to find a suitable stem cell unit to use in the treatment of acute
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blood disorders such as leukaemia and anaemia. In those cases, it is important that a match donor be found. A related donor, usually a brother or sister, offers the best chance of achieving that, but unfortunately only 25 to 35 per cent. of patients have a match sibling. We therefore rely on unrelated donors.

Because transplants have become more common over the years, it is easy to forget just how difficult that work can be. Finding a donor who is genetically matched to the person needing treatment, fit enough to donate and willing to do so is a mixture of luck, hard work and professional dedication of epic proportions. Every time the process is successful, it is a major achievement that only those directly involved truly appreciate.

The task becomes even harder when the patient's genetic background is complex, as was the case for Jeanette, whose early death led to the introduction of the Give and Let Live campaign, as the hon. Gentleman said. However, the British Bone Marrow Registry, its counterpart in Wales and the Anthony Nolan Trust, which runs the largest bone marrow donor register in the UK, do that work daily. More than 13 million unrelated donors are available in registries worldwide. Currently, most come from a Caucasian ethnic background. Therefore, a typical patient from that racial group has more than a 90 per cent. chance of finding a matched unrelated donor, but that figure falls substantially for patients from ethnic minorities or for those who have a mixed genetic inheritance, who have only a 30 or 40 per cent. chance of finding a good match. Jeanette's husband must be congratulated on the tireless work he did to save her.

The Government have taken and continue to take strategic and targeted action to tackle the problem. We must not forget that the collection and use of bone marrow is but one source of stem cells for transplant. The NHS cord blood bank is the fourth biggest in the world, with some 14,000 stored umbilical cord blood units, and it has agreed business plans with NHSBT. We are investing nearly £10 million to increase the size of the bank to 20,000 stored units by 2013. A central aim of the NHS cord blood bank is to redress the imbalance of minority group representation on bone marrow registries by focusing collection at hospitals with ethnically diverse catchment areas. As a consequence, approximately 40 per cent. of donations come from the minority ethnic population, increasing the chances of finding matches for patients from diverse ethnic backgrounds.

The NHS cord blood bank has one of the best records of harvesting and banking unique tissue types to add to those available for transplant in the UK and worldwide. As part of this continued work programme, the Minister of State, Department of Health, my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Gillian Merron), who has responsibility for public health, opened its newest
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collection site at St. George's hospital, Tooting, in October. As with all NHSBT's cord blood collection sites, St. George's was chosen because it serves families from a diverse multicultural mix.

We fully recognise the essential contribution of this work in supplying the NHS with suitable stem cells for transplant-work that saves lives. That is why we are determined to facilitate and promote discussion and debate on the way forward for the harvesting and use of stem cells for transplant. A review of the collection and use of umbilical cord blood, commissioned by the Department of Health last year, found practice in the UK to be comparable to that elsewhere. The review recommended further, detailed consideration of the collection and use of cord blood and a joined-up approach to service provision. Since that time, discussions have been held with a wide range of stakeholders on the issues we face in the collection, storage, commissioning and use of stem cells for transplant, irrespective of the source from which they are derived. We want to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of this work and we are able to meet our obligations in matching stem cell donations to patients in need of a transplant.

Whole organ donation is also critical work. Currently, three people die every day in the UK while waiting for a suitable donated organ. More than 10,000 people in the UK need an organ transplant, a figure that rises by 8 per cent. every year. The Prime Minister has called for 20 million registered donors by 2010 and 25 million by 2013. NHSBT is running a UK-wide public awareness campaign to encourage more people to join the organ donor register and to talk to their families about their wishes. Also, it will soon be distributing information packs to MPs with an interest in donation and organising an event for MPs and stakeholders to raise awareness of the challenges of its work.

The hon. Gentleman raised the important issue of progress in schools. I know that all hon. Members are aware of the rigidity of the curriculum when it comes to such changes. I hope he understands that my role is not to look at the educational curriculum, although I believe that this debate is important and was well deserved. I will ask to meet the Minister for Schools and Learners and raise with him the importance of this debate, to see whether we can reconsider how we can encourage and facilitate participation in the scheme. As is accepted on both sides of the House, there are certain ministerial and departmental procedures to go through. However, I have given the hon. Gentleman a commitment, and I will seek to keep him informed and perhaps encourage him to come with me to that meeting.

Question put and agreed to.

6.29 pm

House adjourned.

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