Medical Innovation Bill ‘Designed To Solve A Problem That Doesn’t Exist’

Lawyers React As Legislation Is Presented To The House Of Lords


Lawyers acting for victims of medical negligence have reiterated their concerns regarding proposed legislation drafted to protect doctors who carry out experimental treatment on patients, warning that the measures are designed to solve a problem which does not exist.

The Medical Innovation Bill, proposed by Lord Saatchi as part of his campaign to improve cancer care following the death of his wife, includes measures which would mean doctors using new techniques or drugs on patients would not face prosecution or legal action if any problems arise.

The proposals would see doctors made statutorily subject to the Bolam/Bolitho test – which is currently used in court to determine negligence by a medical practitioner – but would recognise that novel treatment could be ringfenced as non-negligent provided the treating doctor had obtained the support of a suitable research oversight committee at a treating unit before embarking on treatment.

However, Irwin Mitchell’s Medical Law and Patients’ Rights team have long-held concerns regarding the plans, which are being presented to the House of Lords this week, and responded to the consultation to emphasise the need for careful consideration to be paid to the issue.