Hospital Dr News

Cancer doctors oppose Saatchi innovation Bill

One hundred doctors have written a letter to the Times opposing the Medical Innovation Bill, the so-called Saatchi Bill, currently going through the House of Lords.

In the letter, the oncologists speak of their dismay that the Bill, proposed as a private member’s bill by Lord Saatchi, “is being promoted as offering hope to patients and their families when it will not make any meaningful difference to progress in treating cancer”.

The letter also makes clear that the law around medical negligence does not hinder or prevent innovation.

The Medical Innovation Bill (MIB) aims to change the current law of negligence, which the retired PR guru Lord Saatchi claims inhibits innovative practice, despite there being no evidence that this is in fact the case.

The signatories include Professor Jonathan Ledermann from Cancer Research UK who is currently leading an international clinical trial of a new treatment for women with ovarian cancer.

They are the latest high profile opponents of the Bill, which includes Robert Francis QC, the BMA and the Patient’s Association.

Last month medical research and charitable bodies including the Motor Neurone Disease Association, The British Heart Foundation and the Medical Research Council joined forces to warn of the unintended consequences of the Bill.

The Bill has nevertheless progressed to report stage in the House of Lords and a spokesperson at the Department of Health reportedly said: “The government is currently minded to support the bill as amended by Lord Saatchi.”

Leading academics, legal experts and physicians have now come together to form the Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance, seeking to address what they see as a media blitz instigated by the millionaire peer in support of the Bill which the Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance claim will lead to pain and suffering for many terminally ill patients.

Lord Saatchi responded: “How I pity their patients. Theirs is the authentic voice of complacency and self-satisfaction…these doctors may not have realised that the age of deference is over – not just in medicine but in politics and all walks of life.”

According to the Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance:

– The bill is about removing patient rights, not giving new ones.

– It is about absolving doctors from responsibility for their actions.

– A doctor can act without the support of their colleagues, and be protected by the Bill.

– It applies to treatment for any condition, major or minor.

– It applies even if there is an existing effective treatment.

– It will not give us a cure for cancer, and inhibit research, not promote it.

Professor José Miola, professor of medical law at the University of Leicester and a member of the Stop the Saatchi Bill Alliance, said: “The Medical Innovation Bill is being sold, through a well-resourced campaign, as offering hope to patients with incurable conditions. If only that were true.

“The oncologists who wrote this letter, work at the cutting edge of medical innovation in cancer and have said that this Bill will not help their patients or their future patients. It is time that people listened to the experts and not the media spin.

“The Bill has nothing to say about the funding of new treatments, budgetary constraints on research and development or the regulation of new drugs and devices.

“Worse still, the Bill will risk encouraging irresponsible experimentation rather than the responsible innovation The great majority of doctors are responsible and already try innovative treatments without the help of this Bill. All the bill will do is to allow negligent doctors to avoid liability. There are better ways of promoting medical innovation.”

Bookmark and Share

Post a Comment

Enter this security code

Submit Comment for Moderation