July 2014 Archive

The Saatchi Bill – medical innovation under the microscope

Following the death of his wife in 2011 from ovarian cancer, Lord Saatchi introduced a Bill allowing doctors to offer patients suffering from diseases or conditions that were not responding to conventional medicine, innovative treatments that had not necessarily been subjected to rigorous testing. The underlying motivation for the Bill is the belief that many doctors are deterred from trying new procedures for fear of being sued for medical negligence. The arguments for and against the Medical Innovation Bill, more commonly referred to as the Saatchi Bill, are heated: proponents argue that doctors’ hands are tied by guidelines which are too prescriptive – even when tried and tested treatments are no longer working; while opponents believe that the current law does not stop doctors trying new procedures but does, more importantly, protect patients against irresponsible experimentation.

Retention could soon be a thing of the past

Retention, the dirty word of the Construction industry, could soon be a thing of the past. In a bid to make the industry ‘fairer’ the government has launched its long-awaited Supply Chain Payment Charter. Heralded as the saviour of the Sub-Contractor, the Charter plans to abolish retention pots, freeing up otherwise cordoned-off monies for the benefit of the little guy.

Modelling the sands of time

In any aspect of modern life, it is difficult to avoid the impact of time. English authors have been writing about it for centuries. With an office location in Shakespeare country, I am reminded of the Bard’s line “better three hours too soon than a minute too late”. Admittedly that quote relates to protecting honour by being in the right place at the right time, but then again, how many final account “duels” do we encounter within the construction sector?

Claims for birth injuries have risen by 80%

At the end of 2012, the NHS Litigation Authority produced a report which had studied claims against the NHS arising from medical errors in maternity services over a ten year period. The report concluded that giving birth in a NHS hospital was safe although it acknowledged that there was room for improvement in some aspects. During the ten years that the report covered, less than one medical negligence claim was made per 1000 babies born which should provide some comfort to expectant mothers. However, the report also found that since 2008 claims made for birth injuries have risen by 80% and, because of the seriousness of such injuries to both mother and baby, account for around a third of the NHS litigation budget.

Care of the elderly – a medical negligence time bomb?

A report commissioned by Age UK and the Royal College of Surgeons, ‘Access all Ages’, which is a follow up to their initial one in 2012, reveals that many elderly people are being refused elective surgery despite such surgery being key to their quality of life. In another report, recent figures suggest that 30% of patients are responsible for 70% of NHS spending. The majority are people with long term health issues, many of whom are elderly with multiple, chronic conditions. Both reports suggest that many of our elderly are caught in a downward spiral of health deterioration with the health and social care systems either unwilling or unable to help them.

Reducing medical mistakes

All the talk around patient safety is finally showing signs of translating into action as three different initiatives came together in the same week. On 24 June, Jeremy Hunt formally launched the ‘Sign up to Safety’ initiative, announced in March (blogs passim) which is a voluntary scheme designed to reduce medical mistakes by a third. At the same time, NHS Choices launched its new microsite wherein a range of data relating to patient safety has been published; and a review into the reporting culture of the NHS, led by Sir Robert Francis QC, was announced.
Filter by expertise