Editorials

Why there is no legal or medical justification for the Saatchi bill

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g3464 (Published 27 May 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g3464
  1. James Raftery, professor of health technology assessment1,
  2. Christopher Newdick, professor of health law2
  1. 1Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD, UK
  2. 2School of Law, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  1. J.P.Raftery{at}soton.ac.uk

More a memorial to deeply missed partner than a contribution to improving cancer care

Consultation on the Medical Innovation (Saatchi) Bill attracted 18 000 responses, which are being analysed by the Department of Health.1 2 The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, the prime minister, and several cabinet colleagues support the bill,3 which may become part of next year’s proposed legislation. Much medical opinion has been against the bill, but several eminent doctors and judges favour it.

The original bill was proposed by Maurice Saatchi, whose wife died from a rare form of ovarian cancer in 2011, aged 67. He believes her death was wasted because it did not help advance scientific understanding.

She does not seem to have been denied any specific treatment. Her cancer was “advanced, malignant and inoperable.” Saatchi described her radiotherapy and chemotherapy as “degrading and ineffective.”4 5 He believes that she received “standard treatment.” This is the target of the bill, which sees current law favouring it over innovative treatment. Commentary supporting the bill states: “Under present law, any deviation by a doctor from standard procedure is likely to result in a verdict of guilt …

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