Bye Bye Bolitho? The Curious Case of the Medical Innovation Bill
Medical Law International, Forthcoming
55 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2015 Last revised: 7 Oct 2015
Date Written: July 26, 2015
The Medical Innovation Bill (MIB) was conceived and promoted by Lord Saatchi. In his view, the medical profession was failing to develop new treatments to combat illnesses such as the cancer that resulted in the death of his wife. The principal barrier he perceived to the development of new treatments was that to deviate from ‘standard treatment’ was to invite litigation, and thus doctors could not innovate because they feared being sued for it. Therefore he determined to remove the possibility of litigation in order to, hopefully, facilitate a cure for cancer. He assembled a team including a campaign manager and a parliamentary draughtsman to design and promote the Bill.
Lord Saatchi’s Bill has however caused much controversy but, despite this widespread opposition, the government has lent the Bill its support, and its passage has become a ‘PR war’.
The Bill passed the House of Lords in January 2015, but ran out of time in the House of Commons before the general election in May 2015. However, it is now back and returned to the House of Lords in June 2015. If it gets back to the House of Commons, it may well become law, given that it enjoys government support. The proposed legislation is deeply flawed though: its actual content is not as it has been presented, and its patient safety framework is both a significant downgrade on the current law and inadequate. Moreover it is internally inconsistent and cannot function, even on its own terms. For these reasons and more this paper argues that the MIB should not become law.
Keywords: Medical Innovation Bill, medical profession, medical treatment, MIB
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