The MDU’s position on the Saatchi Bill can be found here . Representing a large percentage of UK doctors, the MDU would presumably welcome something that would minimise litigation. They assert the position however, as do many doctors, that this bill is neither necessary nor beneficial.
“We see no need for new legislation and are happy to reassure doctors that medical innovation should not leave them open to an increased threat of litigation, so long as they can show they acted in accordance with current legal and ethical principles governing clinical practice.” says Dr Devlin.
The MDU believes the current legal position is clear in that doctors need not fear litigation if they apply some very basic principles to innovative treatment: safeguarding, good reasons for departure, patient understanding of reasoning of belief it is in best interests, patient consent. This is long echoed by the BMA, GMC, and in case law.
The current legal position is clear, and has evolved carefully and robustly over many years. Would any reasonable or responsible practitioner have done the same, can logical reasoning be applied, can the decision be explained or defended? This is firmly pro-innovation. There is no need for any change or statutory legislation in this regard.
The risks of a bill would include, as the MDU state, the potential to cause considerable confusion among doctors and thus acually impede medical innovation. “This is because doctors thinking of using a new approach or procedure would have to consider the effect of the Bill, which would be an additional process.”
Indeed in the process of reducing access to justice for claimants it may paradoxically create a significant number of new liabilities, hurdles and uncertainties for doctors and put the law back by decades.