Drive begins to recruit more BME specialist organ donation nurses

NHS Blood and Transplant wants new recruits to encourage more BME people to donate organs

NHS Blood and Transplant initiative wants new recruits to encourage more members of black and minority ethnic communities to donate organs

Transplant box
35% of UK patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in 2017-18 were black and
minority ethnic. Picture: Phillip Carpenter

A nurse-led organ donation service is seeking new black and minority ethnic (BME) nurse recruits to boost the number of donations from members of BME communities.

On 8 September, the NHS Blood and Transplant service will hold its first ever dedicated BME recruitment event to showcase the work and career opportunities within its specialist nurse organ donation (SNOD) teams.

There are currently 12 SNOD teams in England, which are usually formed of between 15 and 35 individual nurses, and whose role is to identify and support patients and families through the donation process.

Specialist nurse organ donation teams

NHS Blood and Transplant diversity lead nurse for organ donation and transplantation, Angela Ditchfield said 96% of the nurses on the SNOD teams are white British.

But Ms Ditchfield said this needed to change: ‘We want to reflect the populations we serve and we don’t currently do that.’

According to a NHS Blood and Transplant report published earlier this year 2,985 of eligible donors from all backgrounds were approached by SNOD nurses across the UK in 2017-18 with a consent rate of 70.5%.

However, areas where no SNOD nurse was present saw only 344 eligible donors approached with a 22.1% consent rate.

The value of more BME nurses

The same report also reveals that while BME groups represent just 11% of the UK population, 35% of the total number of patients on the waiting list for a kidney transplant in 2017-18 were BME.

It adds that 901 BME people received transplants in 2017-18, while only 114 donors (7% of all donations in the UK) came from these communities in that period.

Ms Ditchfield hoped diversifying the workforce would help address this issue: ‘Having more nurses from BME backgrounds on our SNODs should help as they will hopefully understand the cultures better and be able to approach conversations with people about donation in a more experienced way.

‘Lots of health professionals are involved in organ donation at various times in the process, but only SNODs are there supporting patients throughout from start to end.

‘Nurses not only get to help support a family going through a bereavement, but by encouraging them to donate an organ they are also getting to save a life too.’

Recruitment event

Nurses who are interested in joining a SNOD team don’t need to be working in critical care, but they do need to have had past experience in that field.

The recruitment event will be at the West End Blood Donor Centre in London.

To register in advance email

Opt-out system

People in England currently have to opt-in to donate organs but the government plans to change to an opt-out system, which presumes consent, from 2020.

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