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

Government says the Medical Innovation Bill must be amended

Answering a question in the House of Commons yesterday, 21 July 2014, Dr Dan PoulterParliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, said that although the Government supports the principles of the Medical Innovation Bill, amendments were required in four key areas.

Poulter, who continues to work as an NHS hospital doctor on an unpaid basis, believed it was necessary to amend the Bill to ensure it does not:

  1. put patients at risk;
  2. deter good and responsible innovation;
  3. place an undue bureaucratic burden on the national health service; or
  4. expose doctors to a risk of additional liabilities.

The brief exchange in the House can be read in Hansard.

The Bill remains in limbo, awaiting its Committee Stage in the House of Lords, which is still to be scheduled.

For the text of the Bill and a list of current amendments, see: Current Medical Innovation Bill and amendments.