Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill to be amended

Published: 22 Jan 2016

AvMA is pleased to announce that the proposer of the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, has assured us that he will table an amendment to the Bill prior to its next debate in the House of Commons, which will remove the controversial clauses 3 and 4 of the Bill. The amendment is likely to be approved at the debate on 29th January.

Clauses 3 and 4 would change the law of clinical negligence making it more confusing and meaning that treatment that would today be deemed negligent could not be in the future. AvMA and other commentators argued strongly that these clauses are unnecessary and dangerous in that they would harm patient safety and injured patients’ access to justice. AvMA have been extensively quoted in the parliamentary debates about the Bill to date.

Unlike its predecessor, the Medical Innovation Bill (the “Saatchi Bill, which Lord Saatchi was promoting before the general election), opposition parties have this time been alive to the dangers of these clauses and it became clear this Bill could not enjoy cross party support with them intact.

Mr Heaton-Harris’s Bill also contains a clause to help bring about a register/database of available treatments. This proposal still needs careful scrutiny to ensure there are no unintended consequences, but it is far less controversial and it appears that if carefully crafted it could enjoy wide support. Read AvMA’s briefing on the Bill as it stands before the proposed amendment

AvMA chief executive Peter Walsh said:

“This is a victory for common sense, patient safety and justice. We are grateful to Mr Heaton-Harris for agreeing to the removal of these dangerous and unnecessary aspects of his Bill, and relieved on behalf of patients.

“We appreciate that Mr Heaton-Harris is committed to improving medical innovation in the interests of patients and hope that his revised Bill, whilst needing careful parliamentary scrutiny, can help that cause in a way that the original version certainly could not.”

AvMA remain concerned about Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill, which he may yet try to revive in the Lords, and which contains the very contentious proposals that are due to be removed from Mr Heaton-Harris’ Bill.