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Medical Innovation Bill threatens to ‘erode patient safety’

A draft Bill designed to give doctors in England and Wales the freedom to practise innovative medicine on patients is both dangerous and unnecessary, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has said in response to a Government consultation.

The Medical Innovation Bill, devised by Lord Saatchi, aims to save lives by removing a perceived fear of litigation from doctors who wish to use innovative techniques. However, APIL says the unintended consequence of the Bill would be the erosion of patient safety.

“While this Bill is clearly well-intended, it is actually based on myth and misconception,” said APIL president Matthew Stockwell. “Doctors already have the freedom to use innovative techniques – only last month, it was reported that a survivor of a motorbike accident had received pioneering surgery to reconstruct his face."

“The fact is that the current system allows such innovation to take place while providing safeguards for patients, something which this Bill fails to do,” he added.

In its response to the Department of Health consultation, the association argues there is no evidence to support the idea that litigation has increased as a result of innovative medicine.

“The individual needs of patients must come first,” said Mr Stockwell. “If there is a culture of fear among doctors that innovation could lead to litigation, it should be dealt with through education, not legislation.”

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