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Wales votes on organ donation opt-out, patients to get ‘clearer’ surgeon info and the £10 test for post-natal depression

A round-up of the health news headlines on Tuesday 2 July.

Wales could become the only UK country with an opt-out system of organ donation today, the BBC reports.

The Welsh assembly will vote later on whether to change the law to introduce a system where people are presumed to have consented to donate organs after death unless they have opted out.

Ministers want to do this to increase the number of donors by a quarter, but faith leaders and health professionals are calling for a so-called ‘soft opt-out scheme’ whereby families of the deceased have a say on whether donation should take place if their relative had neither opted in or out.

But Health minister Mark Drakeford told BBC Wales: ‘The legislation makes it absolutely clear that if you are uncomfortable with being an organ donor you have an absolute right in the simplest way possible to opt out of the system. You put your name on the organ donor register saying you don’t want to be a donor and that is the end of the matter. There is nothing to be scared of in this legislation.’

Over at the Telegraph is the story that patients are promised more details on surgeons’ performance after it was revealed that in some specialties there is no way of easily choosing a higher performing doctor.

Mortality figures for over 3,500 surgeons across 10 specialties are now available for patients to consider when referred for an operation, but the British Orthopaedic Association and British Cardiovascular Society use a format meaning patients can look up only one named surgeon at a time and compare that with the national average.

Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director for NHS England, says that changes will now be made to make it mandatory for hospitals to publish data listing the mortality rates of their surgeons adjusted for risk profiles.

He said: ‘We will spend the next few months working on a way to do this in the most useful way for patients and others, and we want it presented in a common format. I think we have made a major step forward in getting the data out. This is the start of a journey.’

Finally, the Guardian reports on a new blood test to detect the risk of postnatal depression before women give birth.

A team of UK researchers has developed the £10 screening test, which detects genetic variants that increase the risk of postnatal depression up to five times.

Lead researcher Professor Dimitris Grammatopoulos, from University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust, said: ‘There is evidence that if you can identify women at risk early you could treat early or introduce measures to prevent or stop the process of the disease.’

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