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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing


CELLS blog: ESRC Seminar Series: Liability v Innovation: Unpacking Key Connections: Seminar 3 on the Medical Innovation Bill and the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation Bill)

(11 April 2017)

On 15 September 2016, the third of a series of 6 seminars took place in Durham Law School. The series’ objectives are to explore the relationships between tort liability, disciplinary proceedings, defensive medicine and the effect on innovation. Seminar 3 focused on The Medical Innovation Bill and the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill. The seminar was moderated by Professor Richard Goldberg, a co investigator of the ESRC Seminar Series.

A major policy oriented response to the fear from stifled innovation was the introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill by Lord Saatchi, later reformulated as the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill. Both of these Bills proposed to create a statutory defence to a claim for medical negligence involving innovative treatment which hinged on a pre-treatment peer review of the risks and benefits of the innovative treatment, alternative treatments, and no treatment. While these proposals were ultimately dropped and did not form part of the Access to Medical Treatment (Innovation) Act 2016, the seminar explored the significance and desirability of the proposed statutory defence, opposition to the Bills and the best way forward, by bringing together academics, clinicians, patient rights’ advocates and legal practitioners.