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Lord Saatchi seeks public support for 'health innovation' bill

The Conservative peer Lord Saatchi has used an article in The Telegraph to appeal to the public to participate in the consultation on his Private Members' Bill on health innovation.

Mr Saatchi, one half of the advertising executive duo Saatchi & Saatchi along with his brother, art collector Charles Saatchi, has called on the public to support his bill, which aims to liberate doctors to trial risky new treatments on patients dying of cancer.

Mr Saatchi's wife, the novelist Josephine Hart, died of ovarian carcinoma in 2011, and Mr Saatchi has subsequently campaigned to change the law so that doctors dealing with incurable conditions such as cancer are able to trial innovative treatment approaches on patients with terminal conditions.

As a result of his campaigning, Mr Saatchi last year introduced a Private Members Bill in the House of Lords. The Medical Innovations Bill aims to free doctors from the threat of damaging and costly litigation for medical negligence to allow them to explore new and unproven treatment options.

The Government is supportive of his idea, but has asked for a comprehensive consultation on the proposals to ensure that all sides of the argument are considered.

Mr Saatchi has used a column in The Telegraph to argue in support of the change in the law.

He cites the fact that before the war childhood leukaemia was a condition with a 100% mortality rate. Doctors subsequently trialled giving children folate as a treatment, and were horrified to see the medication actually sped up the progression to death in many cases.

However, far from being a tragedy, this innovation led to the use of the folate inhibitor Methotrexate, which is still used in childhood leukaemia today and is responsible for a dramatic change of fortunes for sufferers of the conditions, which today sees survival rates of close to 90%.

Speaking of the bill, Lord Saatchi writes in The Telegraph: "I can't promise you that, by itself, this change will cure cancer, but it could encourage the person who is out there right now, who may still be a child, and who one day may free us from this blight on my life, and yours."