We don’t need this legislation …

we don’t need this Bill at all

With apologies to Roger Waters I am again prompted to write about the wholly unnecessary Saatchi bill, now given the deja vu treatment by Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris and heading for debate in the House of Commons on 16th October as the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill.

All of the criticisms made of the original Saatchi Bill remain. Heaton-Harris has topped and tailed his bill with provisions about a database of innovative treatments (unworkable provisions as drafted in my view) but the essence of the bill in opening the door to untested quackery remain in sections 3 and 4 which are in essence the same as sections 1 of the Saatchi Bill.

All of the publicity surrounding these 2 Bills has stressed that they are intended to help those suffering from terminal conditions but there is again nothing in the current bill which limits its scope to such cases. Instead the bill will permit doctors to depart from the existing range of accepted medical treatment for any condition without opening the door to a claim in negligence if that treatment goes wrong or is negligently provided. The purported safeguard that the treating doctor must obtain the views of “one or more appropriately qualified doctors in relation to the proposed treatment” would allow Quack Doctor 1 to ask Quack Doctor 2 for an opinion on the treatment.

The Bill also states that the treating doctor must “consider….. any opinions or requests expressed by or in relation to the patient” (s3 2 (d)(i)). I am not sure what is meant by “in relation to the patient” but this provision seems to ignore the changes to the law of consent to treatment following the Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board about which others have blogged, most notably Nigel Poole QC at http://nigelpooleqc.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/access-to-medical-treatments-innovation.html

This Bill will do nothing to improve patient care and will probably lead to harm. Again with apologies to Roger Waters – “Hey Saatchi leave the law alone”.