When I was invited to the Houses of Parliament on Monday to hear about a new private members, I accepted of course. I’ve never been to Westminster before and I wanted to see inside of the seat of power. I was equally intrigued to hear more about the medical innovation bill being put to the house of commons this week. My only hesitation was the bills proposer – Lord Saatchi, previously Conservative party chairman, one half of the partnership who bought us “Labour isn’t working” and ultimately the Thatcher years. I make no apologies for my political leanings, and they are distinctly different from his.
But as someone who has worked with oncology patients, someone who has lost loved ones to the horror that is cancer and someone who sees dear friends struggle everyday with complex medical conditions, I felt I owed them my time and an unbiased view of the proposal!
Lord Saatchi proposes that doctors should not be hampered in their attempts to innovate new techniques and treatments, by the fear and threat of litigation.
And yes I am well aware that lack of funds, budget cuts in the NHS and pressure from the drug companies are also a factor in the lack of new treatments, and those things have to be addressed as well, and I hope in time they will.
Lets focus on the treatment for cancer alone for a minute. A lot of the treatments available are more than 40 years old, using drugs, procedures and radical surgeries that border on torture for a lot of people. The debilitating effects of chemotherapy can be worse that those of the disease they are trying to cure, and in many cases, provide no cure, merely a stay of execution often giving false hope to the patient and their family.
And yet we continue with these treatments, is there really no new way to treat it? Is there no new therapy which is kinder to the person and harsher on the disease? Maybe there isn’t, maybe this is as good as it’s going to get, but surely doctors should be encouraged to try.
Einstein once said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So surely to continue to pump people full of toxic drugs to kill a disease that has never been killed before, is insanity?
At present there are standard procedures and protocols to be followed, standards set down in the past which we stick slavishly to. Why? Well Lord Saatchi’s argument is that it’s the fear of litigation if there is deviation from this path. So he proposes to change the law so that this less of a problem! By doing so he hopes to push the medical profession to think innovatively, try new things and maybe most bravely of all, stand up and do nothing if that is really the best course of action for the sufferer.
The bill will be presented to the house of commons on the 11th September and I would urge you all to see it happen, read what you can about what is being asked and put your support behind something that will change lives. Lobby your MP, ask them to support it in your name – after all they are there at your request!
Parliament itself is a medieval institution, stuck with its own standards and archaic procedures, things won’t change without us hammering at the gates. And your support, your lobbying your MP, tweeting (#saatchibill), sharing this link and all the others that been written, and making your feelings public are the peaceful but forceful version of “putting a brick through the window” and yes that’s exactly how it was described to me- in the house of lords – by a peer of the realm!
And if your political bent is different from his (as mine is – there was a lot of navel gazing about this whole thing!) then think on what my darling chum Jenny said to me as I wavered about what to write
“Cancer doesn’t give a flying f*&k about what colour politicians are playing with the country at the moment, to me it doesn’t matter if it the pink with purple spots party that are saying it .For the love of god, think of something new and have the balls to try it – someone needs to. Because then I wouldn’t be having to explain to the sealion keeper that there is a possibility that a girl in her class will never come back to school, and that mummy will have to go to another funeral for her friend with blood cancer – like she did last year. And I would have had a chance to say goodbye to my dear friend.”
So I don’t care either! She is right – on a matter like this party colour shouldn’t matter! Doing something for the general betterment and good of those in our care is what is important!
So I urge you to put your party affiliations aside and support a man who never wants to see someone else go through the suffering he and his darling wife did! Save another parent from losing their little one. Protect another child from growing up without a mother. Allow another baby to be loved by it’s grandparent. And give another teenager the chance to go out and explore the world.