Saatchi Soundbites

Misleading the nation

Many people believe what they see broadcast on TV, what they read in newspapers. A much greater number of people than this will without doubt trust that what they are told by a Lord and his expert team is the truth.  Unfortunately the statements from the Saatchi Bill campaign team are so thoroughly removed from this, their spin so heavily spun, that in many instances there is a complete reversal of truth, and in all an exaggeration and misrepresentation. Support is not for the Bill, it is for the exaggerated, illogical claims put forward on a false basis.

This can be seen in the public, campaigners and parents. Moreover the power of Saatchi Spin even led to convincing eminent Professor Sir Michael Rawlins, formerly Chair of NICE, to write in the BMJ that he had previously been against the Bill, however what the team had told him, citing Simms and Butler-Sloss, had convinced him there was a need.    ‘Several legal authorities have pointed out that …’ ‘I was originally sceptical about the need for the bill but have been persuaded otherwise, for three reasons. Firstly, it is clear from the comments of Butler-Schloss and other legal authorities consulted by Saatchi..’

Playing on eminent names and pinning most hope on doctors not being lawyers, the team ploughed on. Rawlins followed criticism not with reason but with, to paraphrase but Woolf says so in The Telegraph so it must be so.. ‘I rest my case’.   Professor Sir Rawlins has now obviously taken stock of the overwhelming opinion to the contrary. Who knows – perhaps he remembered the contents of his own book, and issued a Letter in the BMJ stating defensively         ‘the current law is clearly confusing even to lawyers’         ‘I believe any doctor …. Should ensure the results are placed in the public domain’ [not in the Bill] … ‘I am uncertain how this might be enshrined in law’ .   This altogether reads like an about turn defending and explaining his reliance on apparent experts, and is certainly a qualification of and comes perilously close to a complete retraction of his original article.

There is distortion of fact, misrepresentation of the law and exploitation of people who are not experts in the field.  The law is not confusing but has been so misrepresented by the campaign that the distortions result in confusion.  Over and above this, there is crass use of emotive campaigning to pull in the hopes of the desperate the fears of the many and the consciences of the compassionate. Ultracrepidarianism in this campaign is not a political matter; misleading by misrepresenting to gain support will put real patients at real risk of harm.

Here is only a brief selection of examples showing why people have, inevitably, declared the Saatchi Bill a good idea.

The Medical Innovation Bill launch, in the House of Lords

Chair, Dr Max Pemberton, author and writer for The Telegraph: ‘you and your followers have a genuine opportunity to change the course of medical history: to help patients and doctors innovate and find new cures and treatments. The Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised that if you tell him you want the Medical Innovation Bill by responding positively to the DoH consultation then he will pass this Bill into law.’

Lord Saatchi:

‘The basic premise of this bill is that all cancer deaths are wasted lives. Science does not advance by 1cm as a result of all these deaths.. because the deceased receive only the standard procedure. The endless repetition of a failed experiment.
Why is that? Because under current law any deviation by a doctor from standard procedure, if anything goes wrong, is likely to lead to a verdict of guilt for medical negligence. Why’s that? Because current law defines medical negligence as ‘deviation from standard procedure’, but as innovation is deviation, so non deviation is non innovation. Under the current law, just to be clear, the doctor is obliged to stick to the well-worn path, even though he or she knows it leads only to poor life quality followed by death. This is how current law inhibits medical progress.
The pre-eminence of standard procedure is a flat contradiction of the logic of scientific discovery and the whole majestic scientific process comes to what we might call a dead halt at the bedside of the cancer victim.
That’s why the prime minister and the secretary of state have supported this bill and are taking it forward.
‘There will be no cure for cancer until real doctors with real patients in real hospitals can attempt some kind of innovation.’
It codifies what is best practice… the judges are saying is that.. there needs to be a better balance between defensive medicine.. and innovation. Under the current law that’s impossible to achieve.’

[Erm. Hang about. You see what he did there? He sat, brazenly, in the House of Lords, and spoke to ‘the people’ with authority as if he knew what he was talking about. He told them THE CURRENT LAW SAYS THIS. He told them doctors know they are causing poor life quality and death. He guilt-tripped them into wanting it for themselves and others; wasted lives.. no cure for cancer until. In this he shows a staggering abuse of power and trust.]

Jeremy Hunt:
Hunt said: ‘The government should do whatever is needed to remove barriers that prevent innovation which can save and improve lives. The Medical Innovation Bill (s)….. introduced by my noble friend Lord Saatchi…. correctly identify the threat of litigation as one such barrier.’
‘it could lead to major breakthroughs, such as a cure for cancer’.

[though we may know differently, of course, to generalise the public *will* believe everything spoken by someone risen to the highest echelons of government – how can they not tell the truth?]

The Telegraph coverage:
Incessantly biased, in a paper many people will use as their only source of news information, and trust for its editorial competence. It’s hard to know where to begin – all of it, and ‘without innovation we’ll never cure cancer’

The Saatchi Bill tumblr:
The law is one barrier to change, and it is a barrier that engenders and encourages a wider culture of inertia. Changing the law, will encourage more doctors to innovate, and to pass on the sense of enterprise to others around them. They in turn will pass on that enthusiasm and sense of hope that incurable diseases can be treated. The Bill will be a fire starter.

‘For..Duchenne – a 100% fatal condition – and those with cancer and other diseases it is a matter of life and death. This leaves the patient with a terminal illness no hope, no choice and no chance.
The law makes it hard for doctors to try new treatments – even when they know that standard procedures are not going to cure the patient. Something new leaves the doctor open to litigation and the loss of his or her job. This is why current law is a barrier to innovation – it creates a culture of defensive medicine in the NHS.’

‘Currently the law dictates that patients are only offered standard treatments. Innovation requires deviation from standard procedure. So under current law innovation is deviation.’

Patients and families can confidently ask, “Are you trying everything? Is there anything else you can do?’’

‘The Bill was written with input and guidance from eminent clinicians, lawyers and judges including Lord Woolf, Former Master of the Roles [sic] and Lord Chief Justice, Baroness Butler-Sloss, former Lord Justice of Appeal and leading Professors from the Oxford School of Medicine among others.’

‘Jeremy Hunt promised to pass the Bill into law if the public wanted it. You have spoken and you have said, clearly and in numbers, that you support the Bill. Civil servants in the Department of Health will analyse the results and then make a recommendation to Jeremy Hunt whether to support the Bill or not. We are confident that he will. It will then be up to the Government to find time to bring the Bill before Parliament for debate and to be passed in to law. This should happen before the next election.’

etc

Posting on cancer forums:   Dominic Nutt, Liz Scarff posted on various cancer forums thorughout the campaign to gain support and ask for increased community support, sharing of PR, and to find speakers for the Bill’s broadcast events.  The help given to the forum users included a guide to the Medical Innovation Bill ‘easier than reading the Bill’ entitled ‘HOW CAN AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT CURE CANCER?’ which has predictably misleading, biased content.  A further dropbox shared file was even less restrained.

‘Do you want to be in the Telegraph?’ states ‘in many cases standard procedures lead only to a repeated cycle of painful treatments and death with no opportunity for cure furthering medical science’ 

Strangely, many links to documents sent to cancer patients have now been removed, for they may well bring into question the tactics used and the basis upon which people clicked in favour – after all, what kind of monster wouldn’t want to cure cancer? Especially those with a dying relative?

From  ‘HOW CAN AN ACT OF PARLIAMENT CURE CANCER?’

‘SUMMARY

WHY DO WE NEED THIS BILL?

1. All cancer deaths are wasted lives.

2. Science learns nothing from these deaths. Scientific knowledge does not advance by one centimetre.

3. Scientific discovery comes to a ‘dead halt’ at the bedside of the cancer victim.

4. Because current law requires that the deceased receive only the standard procedure – the endless repetition of a failed experiment.

5. Current law is a barrier to progress in curing

6. Under present law, any deviation by a doctor from standard procedure is likely to result in a verdict of guilt for medical negligence.

7. Current law defines medical negligence as deviation from standard procedure.

8. But as innovation is deviation, non-deviation is non-innovation.

9. This is why there is no cure for cancer.

WHY DO WE NEED THIS BILL NOW?

The law of medical negligence hasn’t changed for decades and medical innovations have still been made.

So why is the Bill suddenly so urgent?

1. 1. The law may not have changed much, but society has. We are more informed, less deferential and more litigious.

2. The number of lawsuits filed against the NHS has doubled in four years. Last year’s pay-out was £1.2bn. The Treasury provision for claims against the NHS has now reached £19bn.

3. So doctors are increasingly frightened of being sued, and even less likely to feel able to innovate.

4. “Risk-management” processes within the NHS and insurers’ policies designed to stem the rise of litigation can only increase this anti-innovative pressure.

5. Growing fear of litigation leads to growing bias against innovation.

6. This is why there is no cure for cancer.

LEGAL MEMORANDUM

…In legislative terms, the key operative provision is clause 1(2), which declares that it is not negligent to innovate if the decision is taken responsibly. Even this provision is arguably merely declaratory of the existing law – but sufficient doubt appears to exist as to a perceived legal presumption against innovation to make this provision necessary.

THE STATUS QUO

Unfortunately, here is the status quo:

A woman is told her tests are ‘normal’, to come back in twelve months. Twelve months later, she is removed from her home.

The woman is cut and drilled until she loses half her body weight. Wires and tubes are attached to her throat, nose, stomach, vagina. Drugs are given to her which cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and fatigue. These procedures open the path for deadly infections

to enter the woman’s body. Then, finally, they reduce her body’s defences against infection.

The woman turns into a sparrow.

The woman is left for dead.

Soon after, the woman dies.

REASON FOR CHANGE IN LAW

The aim of the Bill is to improve the detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancer, in particular, ‘hard-to-treat’ women’s gynaecological cancer.

….  “The process”, as it is called, involves scenes which would not permitted in a Hollywood horror movie.

Not surprisingly, the survival rate for such cancers is the same as it was forty years ago; i.e. nought; and the mortality rate is the same as it was forty years ago; i.e. 100%.

Current law in relation to medical negligence contributes to this failure. It defines medical negligence as deviation from standard procedure. But as innovation = deviation, then non-deviation = noninnovation.

DEFECT OF CURRENT LAW

The present pre-eminence in law of the standard procedure provides no inducement to progress. It outlaws initiative. The self-interest of medical practitioners, as defined, for example, in doctors’insurance policies, means that innovation (i.e. deviation) is a form of self-harm.’

And on this official document goes, for all its 104 pages, using sensationalist language, emotive petitioning and unrelenting misrepresentation of the law of medical professionals and science.

These are taken from a cursory glance through, and are repeated  additively time and time again by Lord Saatchi and the team. They intentionally misrepresent medical practice in the UK, cancer care, scientific facts, research progress, and importantly the law. Prof Rawlins went from against the Bill to being swayed by eminence and the portrayal of Simms.  Simms is a perfect example of the Bill’s spin in action – Butler Sloss’s comments depict the reality:  Bolam is no barrier to innovation. Simms was the case where PPS was explicitly approved for use intracerebrally for the first time in 2 young patients with vCJD. If squirting PPS into someone’s brain doesn’t count as innovation, I’m not sure what does.
Yet they take her remark out of context, so out of context that they reverse its meaning, then broadcast on twitter ‘Butler-Sloss has supported’ and tell leading clinicians and experts that a leading, respectable and great legal authority has supported the Bill.

Lord Saatchi stated ”The survival rate for gynaecological cancer is zero and the mortality rate is 100 per cent. “These figures are the same as they were 40 years ago.’ – this is not at all true and is either based on misunderstanding or intentional misrepresentation.

There is no place for this style of campaigning when real lives, real medical progress, real research and real people and their families are squarely put at risk. Open, honest and transparent is what we are all striving for in healthcare improvement and patient involvement. This campaign has been a serious affront to those principles.

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