Human Tissue Authority

The regulator for human tissue and organs

Public confidence in donation is boosted by regulation, survey shows

Issue date: 
26 November 2013

Knowing there is a watchdog for tissue and organs makes people more confident to donate, according to a survey undertaken by Ipsos MORI, on behalf of the Human Tissue Authority (HTA).

People agreed that regulation makes them more confident to donate their organs for transplant (53% agree), tissue for patient treatment (54%) and tissue for medical research (51%).

There has also been an increase in the number of Britons who recognise the benefits of regulating human tissue. A third feel that regulation of human tissue and organs stops bad practice from occurring, whilst others cite that regulation ensures human tissue is not abused, tissue is safer for treatment and that people’s wishes will be respected.

Baroness Diana Warwick, Chair, Human Tissue Authority said: “Public confidence is central to our work. We regulate in order to ensure human tissue and organs are used safely, ethically and with proper consent by licensing and regular inspections, as well as by providing expert advice and guidance where necessary.”

Although the public can cite the benefits of regulation, overall public confidence in human tissue regulation has decreased slightly since 2010. Confidence is now in line with the levels of confidence in health regulation in general. However, according to the survey, 40% of the public lack confidence in health regulation generally, compared to 22% for human tissue regulation specifically.

Anna Quigley, Ipsos MORI Head of Health Research said: “The decline in public confidence may reflect concern about recent regulatory incidents and scandals across the NHS and health sector. Despite this decline, people are twice as likely to express confidence than a lack of confidence in the regulation of human tissue.”

Baroness Warwick added: “Public confidence in regulation is vital: awareness of regulation influences the willingness of people to donate tissue or organs. Regulation provides the public with the knowledge that safeguards are in place to ensure people are treated with dignity in both life and death, and proper consent is sought and given.  The survey of professionals shows that those we regulate have huge confidence in what we do. It will be our top priority to ensure that the public know that they too can have the same high level of confidence.”


  • The HTA surveys professional and public confidence in human tissue regulation every three years (professional surveys took place in 2010 and 2013, public surveys took place in 2007, 2010 and 2013) to help influence its strategic direction and ensure transparency.
  • Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 987 adults aged 15+ between 2 and 12 August 2013.
  • Interviews were carried out face-to-face in home with the aid of CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) terminals in Great Britain.
  • A question about public confidence in health sector regulation in general was asked of a separate representative sample of 998 adults aged 15+ between 16 and 22 August 2013. Again interviews were carried out face-to-face in home with the aid of CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) terminals in Great Britain.
  • Data for both surveys have been weighted to the known population profile.
  • Download the full report and a summary of key findings.
  • You can also download the detailed data tables for the public survey, the professional survey and the questions on health sector regulation.
  • For further information, contact the press office or on 020 7269 1912.