Yesterday December 10, 2014 Sarah Wollaston MP was granted leave to hold an adjournment debate on the Medical Innovation Bill.
The Bill team were also invited to meet Dr Wollaston earlier in the week to discuss the Bill. We thank her for that meeting and for requesting the debate.
During the debate Dr Wollaston raised several important points about the Bill, which could formally come to the Commons in early January.
The points revolve around patient safety and scientific rigour – issues which have been raised by senior doctors and lawyers in the House of Lords and which have been discussed with peers in committee and in bilateral meetings with Lord Saatchi, health ministers Earl Howe, George Freeman and Department of Health lawyers and officials.
On the back of these meetings, amendments have been laid which address the issues raised, and they will be further debated on Friday (December 12) in the Lords.
Edit: This debate has now taken place. Read here.
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies and NHS chief Sir Bruce Keogh, who has inputted into the Bill himself, remain satisfied that the Bill is robust, safe and will enhance, not hinder scientific research.
Summing up in favour of the Bill, Minister George Freeman said:
‘I want to close with some supportive quotes the Bill has received from a number of important people, lest the House should form the view that it is unanimously opposed, which is not the case.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, has said:
“I am confident that, with the amendments made in Committee stage, the Bill is safe for patients and has the potential to encourage responsible innovation.”
Sir Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS, said:
“Encouraging innovation in medicine and protecting patients are both of vital importance. That is why I am pleased that amendments have been devised to address concerns about patient safety.”
Sir Michael Rawlins, president of the Royal Society of Medicine, said that the Bill will allow responsible innovation and treatment:
“I believe the use of the provisions in the draft Medical Innovation Bill will benefit patients, especially those with rarer diseases, and the furtherance of medical science.”
A letter to The Telegraph from 40 leading medical professionals, including David Walker, professor of paediatric oncology at Nottingham university and Riccardo Audisio, the president of the Association of Cancer Surgery, said the Bill
“legally protects doctors who try out innovative new techniques or drugs on patients when all else has failed. This Bill will protect the patient and nurture the innovator. It will encourage safe medical advancement, while at the same time deterring the maverick, thereby recalibrating the culture of defensive medicine. Finally, it will work with evidence-based medicine and provide new data that will inspire and support new research.”
I hope very much that that is the case and that when the Bill leaves the House of Lords, the vast majority of qualified senior opinion in this field is able to agree with it. It is absolutely our intention to support the Bill’s noble intent to promote medical innovation, but equally our intention is to not undermine in any way the Government’s commitment to patient safety or the duty of care that all clinicians share and owe to their patients.’
→Read: The full text in Hansard