A new bill allowing experimentation on dying patients has received huge support from politicians after being proposed by a Jewish peer.
Lord Maurice Saatchi, who introduced the bill in December 2012, has campaigned to change the law since the death of his wife, Josephine Hart, to ovarian cancer.
This week he welcomed news that the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has now promised to back the Medical Innovations Bill if it was supported by the public.
Saatchi’s bill would allow doctors to try out innovative new techniques or drugs on patients, without the fear of prosecution, when all else has failed and they are nearing the end of their life.
“The people have agreed that there is a problem with how we are treating some of the sickest in our society,” said Saatchi, after one of the biggest public consultations ever undertaken closed last week.
The fear of being sued had, for years, stymied medical advances, said Saatchi, who argues that his bill will provide legal clarity to doctors.
“We have a culture of defensive medicine in the NHS, a culture created by the fear of litigation that hangs over doctors,” he said, citing £1.2 billion paid out in lawsuits by the British health service last year alone.
“The Bill has obviously touched a nerve, because people know that all cancer deaths are wasted lives. If the Bill receives Royal Assent, good doctors will be protected and encouraged by the law. I hope Her Majesty’s pen is full of ink.”