David “Kochie” Koch’s shock resignation from an advisory council on organ donation overnight is a sign of the dysfunctional relationship between the Assistant Health Minister, Senator Fiona Nash, and the Authority she is responsible for.
Mr Koch sensationally resigned as the Chairman of the Organ and Tissue Authority Advisory Council live on air and revealed that he had not been consulted about the Government’s decision to undertake another expensive review of organ donation in Australia. He claims that the move was driven by lobby group ShareLife and that Senator Nash needs to “get a backbone”.
Senator Nash has so far failed to offer an explanation as to why she did not contact Mr Koch prior to instigating the review.
Labor established the authority to ensure a coordinated approach to organ and tissue donation. It was just one of the national reforms introduced by Labor to boost organ and tissue donation and it worked. Donation rates increased by almost 40 per cent in less than five years.
But the Government’s actions continue to undermine its vital mission to lift donation rates.
The decision to merge the Organ and Tissue Authority with the National Blood Authority was a short sighted move that served as a distraction to the hard working staff at both organisations.
In addition to this, the Government’s $57 billion worth of cuts to public hospitals means that resources simply aren’t available in hospitals where they are needed and this has contributed to falling donation rates.
In the first full year of the Abbott Government organ and tissue donation rates fell by three per cent after rising for four straight years. Although over 1,100 people received transplants last year, this is far fewer than the total numbers of Australians who needed them.