Health minister Ann Keen toured the dialysis unit at Hammersmith Hospital in west London ahead of publication of a report by the Organ Donation Taskforce this week.

Prime minister Gordon Brown pre-empted the report by calling for a national debate on whether to change the organ donation system to one where everyone is automatically placed on the donor register.

This would mean that, unless people made a specific decision to opt out or family members objected, hospitals would be allowed to use their organs for transplants.

The Organ Donation Taskforce report sets out 14 recommendations which it hopes will boost the level of donations, including a doubling of transplant co-ordinators and the establishment of 24-hour transplant teams. It will not report on presumed consent until the summer.