This is where the Medical Innovation Bill steps forward, a Bill Lord Saatchi wants to introduce to help doctors innovate, to advance medical science and find new and better treatments for cancer, MS and other illnesses.
I attended a meeting at the Houses of Parliament on Monday where Lord Saatchi explained that medical innovation requires deviation from standard medical procedures. Presently, defensive medicine is practised through fear of litigation – payouts from the NHS have doubled in the past four years alone, reaching £1.2 billion in the last financial year.
What this Bill proposes is much greater clarity as to what is negligent and dangerous practice by clinicians and what is careful and sensitive innovation. Take for example the doctor at Barts, who 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 walls, to the ribs – anything and everything that could be removed without killing the women.
Geoffrey 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. Now, it is standard procedure. This was innovation. If Keynes did this today, and a patient died, he would probably face being sued.
So what does this mean for MS? I spoke to the MS Society regarding innovation and treatment. They are calling for two comprehensive reviews each year for everyone with MS, led by an MS specialist who can ensure that we have access to the most innovative treatments via well informed policy decisions.
Furthermore, Lord Saatchi points out that any decisions, whether standard procedure or innovation, should be made within a multi-disciplinary team. Yet we know that certain roles within these teams, such as MS nurses, have been under pressure due to recent financial constraints within the health service. How can we ensure that every patient has full access to a multi-disciplinary team?
Today, the Bill is being introduced into the Houses of Commons by Michael Ellis MP in the form of a Ten Minute Rule Bill, the first step in gathering Parliamentary support for the Bill. All of us living with a devastating illness should keep a keen eye on developments. Please ask your MP if they will support the Bill – www.writetothem.com