BMA response to Medical Innovation Bill ‘Saatchi Bill’

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The BMA have over 153,000 members. They ‘maintain the honour and interests of the medical profession and promote the achievement of high quality healthcare.’ They aim to represent members’ best interests, and in turn aim to achieve the highest standards for patients.

The BMA’s response to the consultation on the Saatchi Bill / Medical Innovation Bill can be read in full here:

BMA Response

The BMA ‘strongly believes that this Bill should not become law’ and is
‘unnecessary, risks removing important protections for patients and could encourage reckless practice, with attendant risks for patient safety.’

The BMA believes that the best mechanism through which medical science can advance is through well-regulated research and clinical trials. However, If there is sufficient justification to believe an untested or unlicensed treatment could be beneficial, doctors should be confident in pursuing these with patients where clinically indicated and in their best interests.

We have no evidence to suggest that the threat of litigation is a barrier to the provision of innovative treatment of this kind and we strongly question the necessity and desirability of introducing statute to clarify or change the law in this area.

Where it is necessary to pursue innovative treatments and it is not practical to follow a research pathway, doctors are required to act in the best interests of their patient;

It is clear that treatment which is outside of standard practice can be provided in these circumstances and doctors are prepared to explore these options with their patients under the law as it stands. The Simms v Simms judgment itself showed that even risky, innovative treatment, for which there was minimal evidence of effectiveness and which had not been tested on human beings, can be allowed provided it is in the best interests of patients.

The BMA has received..reports..that funding requests for innovative treatment are submitted and approved, often on condition that the results will then be distributed, adding to the wider body of medical knowledge.

If the Government’s aim is to encourage medical innovation, the BMA believes the focus on negligence is misguided and may send the wrong message to patients
It focuses on the process of decision making rather than the outcome for patients and, in contrast to the current test of medical negligence, places considerable emphasis on individual opinion and subjective analysis, rather than on the validation of a decision..

Focusing on negligence also fails to acknowledge other barriers to doctors developing and exploring innovative treatments and offering them to their patients, including funding, being allowed the time to undertake the necessary studies, and the various approvals processes.

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