A private member’s bill put forward by Daventry’s MP has defied the odds and been signed into law.
Chris Heaton-Harris’s Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill received Royal Assent at the end of the day on Wednesday last week.
The act aims to allow doctors and patients to use new treatments that may not have been tested and signed-off to the degree of conventional ones. It removes the threat of legal action from doctors and the medical trade for using such treatments, and it creates a database to track the use of such treatments and their successes.
Chris Heaton-Harris proposed the bill after winning the chance to put a private members bill before Parliament. Typically such bills rarely proceed very far down the parliamentary timeline as the Government controls the time given to pieces of legislation, and if it does not back something it can be scheduled so as to stop its progress.
Mr Heaton-Harris’s bill was first scrutinised by the Commons before being sent on to the House of Lords for them to consider.
On Wednesday last week the Commons was told the bill had become an Act after Royal Assent had been given.
Mr Heaton-Harris said: “In an age of ever-evolving medical treatment, this bill will make sure the amazing work that goes on in our NHS every day is not isolated to one hospital, surgery or practice, but is easily seen and accessed by every registered medical practitioner searching for the best treatment.
“The appetite for encouraging medical innovation and support for off-label use has been made very clear throughout the passage of this bill and I am delighted these measures have finally made it into law.”
Critics of the bill said it could see doctors prescribing treatments themselves rather than enrolling patients onto clinical trials – potentially making it harder to gather medical evidence for the use of innovative treatments.