The Times: Our letter to the Editor

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Published in The Times today our letter to the Editor in response to the letter published Monday 28th April regarding the Medical Innovation Bill.


The evidence for the need for the Medical Innovation Bill is compelling. Around 18,000 doctors and patients replied to the Department of Health consultation supporting the Bill, many confirming that they have experienced the deterrent effect that an increasingly risk-averse culture is having on responsible medical innovation.

The objections in Mr Poole’s letter (Apr 24) relate to details of the Bill that were not in Lord Saatchi’s original text and will not be in the text that he intends to introduce early in the new session. The Bill team will soon publish a new draft which meets concerns expressed by legal and medical professionals.

Doctors must be given the freedom to innovate responsibly, with the confidence that the law will protect them if their decision is made with the support of a responsible body of medical opinion.

They must not be forced to wait until their decision is tested in expensive and traumatic litigation or disciplinary proceedings. Nobody wants that, except perhaps a small group of lawyers who make their living from the existing litigation-focused system.

The Bill will be an opportunity for all those who are concerned that the legal system is not properly serving patients with rare diseases, whose hope rests entirely on innovation.

Patients want to know that every responsible avenue is being explored in order to help them, and that doing nothing is no longer the easy and safe answer.

Good doctors must be given the protection and encouragement of the law to innovate; and bad doctors must be deterred from innovating without support of their colleagues.

The Bill achieves both aims, and is to be welcomed by lawyers, doctors and patients.

Daniel Greenberg
Parliamentary Counsel to the Medical Innovation Bill team

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