Medical Innovation Bill and Lawyers


Championing Progress or Restricting Research?

The Government continues the debate on Lord Saatchi's Medical Innovation Bill, the chief point of which is to enable patients to be subjected to untested medical therapies if they suffer a terminal condition.

Terminal patients should be protected from harmful legislation

Patients have to be safeguarded and there is concern that this could result in unwilling patients being used as guinea pigs or doctors being sued for medical negligence if the patient dies. Accordingly, there are strong views on each side.

Life peer Lord Blencathra, himself suffering from a chronically debilitating condition spoke out on yesterday’s BBC Radio 4 PM programme on this topic and said that lawyers should be euthanised.

Marguarita Tyne, Clinical Negligence Partner here at Simpson Millar LLP shares her views on both the Bill and Lord Blencathra's comments:

"I was very disappointed and uneasy having heard Lord Blencathra on yesterday’s PM programme advocating euthanasia of lawyers on-air. Personal circumstances do not justify such an emotive and sadly all too cynical expression of a point of view.

As a hardworking Clinical Negligence lawyer of many years, I see former patients who have suffered devastating and life-changing injuries following negligent medical treatment. The medical profession frequently offers no consistency in dealing with this group of patients and their voices are not heard. They become my clients, often to ensure that those who follow them benefit from improved care. As a society, we owe them a right both to be represented and to be heard and for all patients to benefit from improved patient safety.

Experience tells us that society often does not self-regulate. Pioneering lawyers in the early part of the last century helped to ensure, by bringing claims in heavy industry, that workers were protected with changes in health and safety legislation.

This is not about persecuting doctors and putting barriers up to progress in medicine. Lawyers can be the gatekeepers of patient safety. Lambasting lawyers, who fight hard for their clients will neither improve patient safety nor medicine for future generations."

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