As Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill has its third reading in the House of Lords later today (January 23), the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has again questioned the sense of such of a law.

The Medical Innovation Bill was originally proposed to seek clarification in law that it would not be negligent for a doctor to deviate from standard practice in treating a serious condition if the decision to do so is taken responsibly and is in the patient's best interest. However a very long list of academics, specialists and charities have repeatedly described the Bill as deeply flawed, saying it could lead to serious harm for desperate patients and threaten the very notion of clinical trials, among other concerns.

The AoMRC is one such critic and has reaffirmed its view “that we do not believe that the Bill will actually achieve this worthwhile intention” of promoting innovation.

'Danger of unintended consequences'

The Academy notes that when it was first presented, “Royal Colleges and other professional medical bodies had concerns about potential unintended implications of the Bill”. It acknowledges that the amendments made to the Bill to date “have certainly addressed a number of these concerns and have been welcomed”, but there “remains a danger of the unintended consequences of the Bill in diverting efforts away from properly conducted clinical research trials”.

In addition, “even as amended, we remain unclear as to what value the Bill will add to the current position”, the AoMRC states, adding that it does not believe the legislation “is necessary and efforts could more helpfully be directed at removing some of the practical barriers that can impede real innovation in the NHS”.