The Medical Innovation Bill, introduced by Conservative peer and advertising entrepreneur Lord Saatchi, aims to prevent doctors from being held liable for clinical negligence if they ‘innovate’ during cancer treatment.
Presently a doctor is not guilty of negligence if he acted in accordance with a practice accepted as proper by a responsible body of medical opinion. Lord Saatchi has argued that doctors’ fear of litigation is blocking them from being ‘innovative’ during cancer treatment as they are reluctant to deviate from standard practice. The Bill aims to classify in law what constitutes best practice and widen the definition of ‘standard procedure’ to include more innovative care.
In the Bill papers Lord Saatchi commented that ‘The law as it stands does not strike a proper balance between reckless experimentation on the one hand, which puts patients’ lives at risk, and complacent apathy which treads the well-worn path on which no liability can arise.’
The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords on 3 December and the second reading is yet to be scheduled.