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Medical Innovation Bill Gets Third Reading in House of Lords

Lord Saatchi, the advertising guru, has proposed a new law, The Medical Innovation Bill; consequently it is known as the ‘Saatchi Bill’. He claims that it will help to cure cancers and other diseases.

The stated aim of the Saatchi Bill is to enable doctors to try innovative treatments on patients without the fear of being sued if the treatment goes wrong.

But at Slater and Gordon Lawyers we are concerned about the Bill.

There is a worrying lack of lack of evidence to support the Bill yet it continues through the Parliamentary process. It has now moved from the House of Lords to the House of Commons.

Those supporting the Bill argue that it will encourage innovation in medical treatments. We fear it is a potential danger to patients and doctors alike.

Obvious Problems with the Saatchi Bill:

  • The Saatchi Bill is based on a false premise. Contrary to what Lord Saatchi says, organisations that protect doctors from being sued say they have no evidence that the fear of being sued inhibits doctors from innovating. In fact, doctors have been innovating for as long as they have been practicing medicine.
  • All the Saatchi Bill actually does is to provide a protection from being sued to a doctor provided that doctor follow a particular tick-box exercise.
  • It applies to all patients (including children, the elderly and the vulnerable) with all conditions (except cosmetic treatments) being treated by all doctors.
  • The effect of that is chilling. It means that under certain circumstances a patient who could currently be compensated for injuries caused by negligence will be prevented from suing that doctor where the doctor complies with the Saatchi Bill.
  • That means that a doctor will be protected and you will be prevent from being compensated, when the innovative treatment leads to you being injured.

Opposition to the Saatchi Bill comes from almost all organisations that represent doctors, groups who represent patients, lawyers, some politicians, charities and bodies involved in research. In fact members of the Welsh Assembly are sufficiently concerned about its effect on the people of Wales that they have voted overwhelmingly against it applying in Wales.

The biggest fear is the Bill could allow rogue doctors to take advantage of vulnerable patients by offering hope as opposed to acceptable treatment while removing a patient’s right of redress. Another is that it may allow drug companies to bypass the normal rules in testing drugs. It is vital policymakers ensure proper safeguards remain for patients.

Darren Conway is a Clinical and Medical Negligence Solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

For more information call freephone 0800 916 9049 or contact us online.

Slater and Gordon are a leading clinical and medical negligence law firm with 1,450 staff and 18 offices in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Merseyside, Bristol, Newcastle, Halifax, Wakefield, Derby, Cambridge and meeting rooms in Bramhall, Cheshire and in Hull, Yorkshire.