Stop the Saatchi Bill

Driven by an extraordinary two-year PR campaign on social media and a supportive newspaper partner, this all started as Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill, metamorphosed through several versions, and was resurrected under a new name by Chris Heaton-Harris, before finally clearing its last hurdle in the Lords this week to become the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Act.
Pretty much the only thing they share is the word 'Innovation' in the title.

One day, it may be possible for politicians to ask the people who actually work in the medical field: what are the problems you face, and how can we help you overcome them?

One day, politicians may actually listen to the answers they receive, and thus try to tackle genuine problems rather than imagined ones.

One day, politicians, medics, researchers, lawyers, patient groups, charities, and the public, may work together to overcome the barriers to the development and provision of new treatments.

But it is not this day.

Read more: Not this day

A welcome decision

The Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance welcomes the decision not to move the Medical Innovation Bill at its second reading.

While we firmly support innovation, we were joined by countless charities, experts, professional and patients’ organisations in our concerns that the Bill, which was set to apply to all patients, all doctors, all conditions and all treatments, was both unnecessary and unacceptably dangerous.

The law of negligence does not impede responsible innovation and the Bill was poorly targeted on this baseless premise.

Some further concerns included that the Bill would undermine clinical trials and introduce contradictory and dangerous amendments to the law, removing a patient’s ability to access redress without providing any additional rights of access to treatment, helping neither doctors nor patients.

Importantly, it was widely agreed to be a serious threat to patient safety.

However well-meaning the originator and motivations of this private member’s Bill, it is a disgrace that the Government and Department of Health supported and encouraged dangerous primary legislation based on such lack of evidence and with such ill-conceived expectations.

The Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance will firmly reject and repudiate any future moves to bring such legislation back. There is no legal impediment to medical innovation to be solved.