Confusion and Controversy: the Special Case of the Medical Innovation Bill

Bye Bye Bolitho? The Curious Case of the MIB

Indeed. there seems to have been rather a lot of ‘confusion’ surrounding the #SaatchiBill campaign told me Alan Henness in our short conversation. Image credit Beat Blood Cancers.

This post content has been written by José Miola, Professor of Medical Law, University of Leicester, on Social Science Research Network – Tomorrow’s Research Today.


The Medical Innovation Bill (MIB) was conceived and promoted by Lord Saatchi. In his view, the medical profession was failing to develop new treatments to combat illnesses such as the cancer that resulted in the death of his wife . The principal barrier he perceived to the development of new treatments was that to deviate from ‘standard treatment’ was to invite litigation, and thus doctors could not innovate because they feared being sued for it . Therefore he determined to remove the possibility of litigation in order to, hopefully, facilitate a cure for cancer. He assembled a team including a campaign manager and a parliamentary draughtsman to design and promote the Bill.

Lord Saatchi’s Bill has however caused much controversy but, despite this widespread opposition, the government has lent the Bill its support, and its passage has become a ‘PR war’.

The Bill passed the House of Lords in January 2015, but ran out of time in the House of Commons before the general election in May 2015. However, it is now back and returned to the House of Lords in June 2015. If it gets back to the House of Commons, it may well become law, given that it enjoys government support. The proposed legislation is deeply flawed though: its actual content is not as it has been presented, and its patient safety framework is both a significant downgrade on the current law and inadequate. Moreover it is internally inconsistent and cannot function, even on its own terms. For these reasons and more this paper argues that the MIB should not become law.

More Information
  • Full Paper Bye Bye Bolitho? The Curious Case of the Medical Innovation Bill, University of Leicester School of Law Research Paper No. 15-24, PDF, July 26, 2015.
  • Former Lord Chief Justice unable to substantiate argument for Medical Innovation Bill, solicitorsjournal, 11 December 2014.

What is the Saatchi Bill and do we need it?

Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill “the SaatchiBill” would help doctors innovate new treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases

Lord Saatchi’s Medical Innovation Bill “the Saatchi Bill” will help doctors innovate new treatments and cures for cancer and other diseases.

The Medical Innovation Bill will save lives by supporting doctors who want to innovate and find new ways of treating disease.

Doctors, patients and judges will have much greater clarity as to what is negligent and dangerous practice by clinicians and what is careful and sensible innovation.

It will free your doctor to consider new treatments and ideas. But, and more importantly, it will allow the patient to demand innovative treatment.

What is the Saatchi Bill and why do we need it?
What is the Saatchi Bill and why do we need it? Follow @SaatchiBill #Cancer

One of the most famous examples of innovation is when Geoffrey Keynes, a doctor at Barts, refused to do what surgeons across the UK and US were doing with breast cancer – the Halsted method – whereby women with breast cancer faced a double mastectomy, and the removal of all tissue from the shoulder, to the chest wall, to ribs – anything and everything that could be removed without killing the women.

Keynes, alone, removed only the tumour and undertook radiotherapy, in combination. He was ridiculed and humiliated on a world stage. Halsted followers called it a ‘lumpectomy’ as a term of derision. Of course, today, the lumpectomy is standard procedure.

That was innovation.

Once passed, a patient, armed with the legislation, will be able to say to his or her doctor: ‘Are you trying everything? Can you do anything differently?’ The doctor will no longer need to say he or she cannot risk trying anything new.  ”


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