Seeking to help thousands waiting life-saving transplants, British PM Gordon Brown has signalled his support for acquiring organs from the dead without prior explicit consent, according to a Sky News report.

The policy, referred to as "presumed consent" would mean that, unless people opted out of the donor register or family members objected, hospitals would be allowed to take their organs.

Click here to read Sky News report.

Brown, writing in The Sunday Telegraph, said: "A system of this kind seems to have the potential to close the aching gap between the potential benefits of transplant surgery in the UK and the limits imposed by our current system of consent."

Ministers are set to begin a review of the existing system, with doctors and nurses expected to sign up more donors.

But Mr Brown indicated his backing for the more radical approach, which is similar to that in Spain where there are more organ donors per head of population than anywhere in the world.

Such a move is likely to face fierce opposition from patients' groups.

Joyce Robins, of the Patient Concern watchdog, said: "We are totally opposed to this. They call it presumed consent, but it is no consent at all.

"They are relying on inertia and ignorance to get the results that they want."

Katherine Murphy, the Patients Association charity, said: "We don't think a private decision, which is a matter of individual conscience, should be taken by the state.

"If people want to give the gift of life, that is their right, but it must be something that is a voluntary matter."

Sir Liam Donaldson, England's chief medical officer, told The Observer: "We have 1,000 or more patients dying on the waiting list each year, and there is a lot of suppressed demand, with doctors not even referring patients onto the list because there is no hope for them.

"That is a lot of patients dying."