Patients in need of life-saving kidney donations are dying because of a failure by the Government to encourage people to donate their organs when they die, according to the head of a leading charity.
Tim Statham, chief executive of the National Kidney Federation, launched a stinging attack on the Government yesterday for falling short of a target to boost organ donor rates by 50 per cent.
The Organ Donation Taskforce, set up under Labour, was disbanded when the Coalition came to power but no new body has been formed to replace it, he said.
He added that the target set by the taskforce to increase organ donor rates by 50 per cent by 2013 will be missed.
The vast majority of people waiting for an organ in the UK are kidney patients.
"The Department of Health tells us they believe the target will be met but we are absolutely certain in our minds that it will not be," Mr Statham said.
"We have spoken to people in the Department of Health and to Chris Rudge (who was tasked with boosting donation rates) and they agree.
"We are currently at about 27%, which has been achieved over the last four years, with only one year of the target left to go."
The National Kidney Federation is in favour of a national system of presumed consent.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, is known to be opposed to such an idea in England. It is currently being considered in Wales for implementation by 2015.