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I’ve heard Lord Saatchi and others talk about the Bill ‘changing medical culture’. What does this mean?

Over time, the Bill will, we believe, encourage innovation and in turn support the development of better treatments and cures for all manner of diseases, conditions and cancers.

It will foster a spirit of innovation, which will advance medical science and discovery in the interests of patients.

At the same time it will act against the maverick and the snake oil salesman. The Bill will be a catalyst for change.


Lord Kakkar - Medical Innovation Bill
Lord Kakkar – Medical Innovation Bill

Lord Kakkar, Professor of Surgery at University College in London and a member of the General Medical Council said at the House of Lords Committee stage 24th October 2014

‘…this is a vitally important Bill to drive forward the practicalities of innovation in clinical practice. I hope that it will also drive forward a positive culture of putting innovation at the heart of all clinical thinking.’



Earl Howe - Medical Innovation Bill
Earl Howe – Medical Innovation Bill

Lord Earl Howe, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Quality said at the House of Lords Committee stage 24th October 2014

‘…We have silos of innovation and forward-thinking practice throughout the health service. The challenge has been to spread that innovative behaviour more widely and for the diffusion of innovative treatments to become second nature to the health service. It is a cultural issue.’

Read the full text of the House of Lords committee debate in Hansard.

Why has Lord Saatchi created the Medical Innovation Bill?

Lord Saatchi’s wife, Josephine Hart, died in July 2011 from a form of ovarian cancer.

Moved by grief, taxed by the treatment his wife had to endure and shocked by the lack of progress made in treating and curing gynaecological cancers, Lord Saatchi sought to act.

He felt that more progress needed to be made and could be made in finding new treatments for cancers and other diseases and conditions.

His research discerned that one brake on progress was the fear doctors have of trying new techniques where old techniques have failed.

This fear is a result of law suits which can be brought against doctors who deviate from standard procedure. All innovation is, by definition, deviation. The law protects those who tread the well-worn path and can punish those who don’t.

Watch this overview on the Medical Innovation Bill by the BBC from January 2013.

Is the Medical Innovation Bill dangerous?

No – quite the opposite.

Not only will it encourage better treatments and advance medical science, with the consent of patients, it will isolate the maverick, the eccentric and the snake oil salesman who act alone.

As things stand now, under the current law, a doctor wishing to innovate could, in theory, act alone. This Bill will stop this happening.

No doctor wishing to use the Bill can do so without specialist collegiate support. This is why the Bill stands squarely against the maverick and the quack.

Indeed, the intention clause of the Bill, which sets out what the bill is intended to achieve, explicitly states that: “The purpose of this [Bill] is to encourage responsible innovation in medical treatment (and accordingly to deter irresponsible innovation).


→LISTEN: Sir Michael Rawlins – BBC Radio 4 Today programme, June 2nd 2014.


Sir Michael Rawlins
Sir Michael Rawlins

Sir Michael is Chair of Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, former chairman for National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) and President of the Royal Society of Medicine

“The Saatchi Bill will allow responsible innovation.” says Sir Michael Rawlins.

“From trying out things in individual patients, that can lead onto research and benefit thousands of other patients,” adds Sir Michael.

Lord Kakkar - Medical Innovation Bill
Lord Kakkar – House of Lords committee 24th October 2014

Lord Kakkar – House of Lords committee 24th October 2014 Professor of Surgery at University College London and member of the General Medical Council, speaking at the House of Lords committee on 24th October 2014.

“I was initially anxious about the fact that there were insufficient safeguards. The approach that I wished to adopt was one that I know has been considered but has been also dismissed.
‘I have, however, become reassured by the process under the supervision of the Medical Director of the NHS, Sir Bruce Keogh.

“He has consulted widely among the profession and I believe that the amendments in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Saatchi, particularly Amendments 12 and 16, bring us to a place where appropriate safeguards have now been introduced.

“I hope that they will be judged sufficient to provide the protection that all responsible and reasonable clinical practitioners would want in a Bill of this nature.”

→READ and WATCH: the full House of Lords commitee stage debate

Isn’t it the case that we are winning the ‘war on cancer’ already?

It is true that there have been huge advances in some cancer treatments, including breast and blood cancers. But the majority of cancer deaths are from so-called ‘rare’ cancers. Such cancers, individually, account for a relatively small number of deaths. But together, they account for the majority of cancer-related fatalities. Indeed, one in six of us will die from a so-called ‘rare cancer’.

There have been few advances in most of them. And for many there simply are no treatments, other than the surgeon’s knife.

In many cases, going through standard procedures, when the standard procedures are ineffective is a painful demonstration of Einstein’s theory of insanity – doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

What is innovation?

Innovation is anything that is not standard procedure, anything new, anything designed to improve results, find better treatments and cures for patients compared with standard procedures.

Innovation does not have to be anything spectacular. It might be a slightly different surgical technique, or using a different combination of drugs, or a different dose – and it might be doing nothing.

The history of innovation often revolves around the individual clinician who has an idea, who is inspired to try something new, who has seen a pattern that others have missed and who bucks the trend.

Lord Mackay
Lord Mackay

Former Lord Chancellor Lord MacKay has said of those calling for a definition of innovation within the Bill that:

“…the word ‘innovation’ is a straightforward word in the English language. … if we want simplicity, we should go for perfectly clear English words. “Innovation” is one of them.

“To define it other than that which is not the standard procedure, is to risk limiting it and it is for doctors to decide what is innovation and whether to apply the bill to their proposed procedure.”

Who is this Bill for?

This Bill is for medical doctors – it will protect those who want to find new and better ways of caring for their patients and finding better ways to treat patients.

It is for the courts – current law is ambiguous and leads to uncertainty. The current law does not define clearly what good, or bad, practice is in regards to innovation. It causes doubt among judges and doctors. This Bill brings clarity.

And most of all it is for us – patients. Most of us have been touched by ill health, by cancer and rare or hard to treat diseases. And those of us who haven’t been, almost certainly will be, one day.

It will allow us to go to our medical doctor and say: “Have you tried everything? Is there anything new out there? Something that is not standard procedure? I would like you to try it – you can, you know, because of the Medical Innovation Bill.”