‘The Patients Association does see the merit of medical innovation and is wholeheartedly in favour of new procedures that enhance healthcare and improve outcomes for patients. However, as advocates for patients’ experiences, we are mindful of the undesired consequences to patients due to a lack of robust governance and scrutiny. It is essential therefore, that any change to medical practice is implemented with the patients’ best interests at heart. It is vital that the safety and dignity of every patient is assured in all circumstances. This is particularly important as the issues here are likely to affect people when at their most vulnerable.
As things stand at the moment, the Patients Association would oppose this Bill. The Patients Association would like to see a wide ranging public debate that would allow the profile of this issue to be raised. Only in this way can the views of all interested parties including the public, practitioners and pharmaceutical companies be taken into account. Without this, the Patients Association would be concerned that medicine would be moving into grey areas where issues such as responsibility, accountability, understanding and outcomes become blurred.‘
The MDU, representing around 50% of doctors in the UK ‘does not support the bill.’
‘The law in England and Wales is already very clear and there is no need for new legislation. We fear that the Bill will only serve to introduce confusion and delay in circumstances where they do not currently exist and that could be harmful for patients.
Although the Bill has been comprehensively amended, our principal concern remains that there is no need for such a Bill. If there was a gap in the law that left doctors unprotected and prevented them from innovating in the interests of patients, we would support the Bill. Indeed we would have been clamouring for legislation on behalf of our members and their patients a very long time ago. However, our experience of clinical negligence litigation makes it clear to us there is no need for the Bill. We cannot support it..’
The RCR confirm the universal finding that ‘there is no evidence that doctors are deterred from innovation by fear of litigation.’
‘We are very concerned that there could be serious unintended consequences of the proposed legislation. Existing governance mechanisms protect patients from inappropriate experimentation and protect doctors from pressure to innovate in ways which are potentially detrimental to their patients. Patients who are not satisfied with the response of a particular doctor to a proposed innovative treatment may seek a second opinion. Relaxation of these governance mechanisms, which this Bill proposes, risks exposing vulnerable and desperate patients to false hope, futile and potentially harmful (and expensive) treatments.’