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

The British Medical Association

The British Medical Association

Clause 1(5e) requires doctors to consider the “opinions or requests expressed by colleagues whose opinions appear to the doctor to be appropriate to take into account”. The BMA has a number of concerns with this clause. As it only requires a doctor to “consider” such views it raises the possibility that he or she could ignore the views of colleagues who might vehemently disagree that the proposed course of action was justified. It also allows doctors to consult whomever they believe to be appropriate, which could in reality just be colleagues who agree with their viewpoint, arguably making the process redundant and offering no protection to patients. As footnote 9 in the consultation document acknowledges, there is no requirement that these colleagues are medical colleagues. This could mean that a doctor could ask any colleague for their opinion, irrespective of their training, impartiality or relationship with the doctor, and meet this requirement in the Bill.
Medical Innovation Bill Saatchi Bill
2014-06-03T23:19:31+01:00
Clause 1(5e) requires doctors to consider the “opinions or requests expressed by colleagues whose opinions appear to the doctor to be appropriate to take into account”. The BMA has a number of concerns with this clause. As it only requires a doctor to “consider” such views it raises the possibility that he or she could ignore the views of colleagues who might vehemently disagree that the proposed course of action was justified. It also allows doctors to consult whomever they believe to be appropriate, which could in reality just be colleagues who agree with their viewpoint, arguably making the process redundant and offering no protection to patients. As footnote 9 in the consultation document acknowledges, there is no requirement that these colleagues are medical colleagues. This could mean that a doctor could ask any colleague for their opinion, irrespective of their training, impartiality or relationship with the doctor, and meet this requirement in the Bill.