My Private Members' Bill: "Access to Medical Treatment (Innovation) Bill.
A couple of weeks ago, I entered a type of parliamentary lottery. I put my name down, along with 400 other MPs, for a chance to be one of twenty randomly selected to get a ‘Private Members' Bill’ (PMB).
I was the second name pulled out and therefore, I have a real chance of making a piece of law.
Between then and Tuesday of this week, I went about selecting the subject for my Bill.
I actually had a couple of ideas and, after much deliberation, settled for the "Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill".
My Bill had its first reading yesterday, and it was a great success, as all I had to do was stand up before the Speaker of the House of Commons and say (after the Clerk of the House read out the title of the Bill) the date of the second reading of the Bill: "Friday 16th October 2015."
And that was that. Parliamentary procedure dictates that all my Bill requires for its first reading is a name, a top line (not much different to the name itself) and a date on which second reading will take place.
So currently, that is all there is to it. No text, no clauses; literally nothing.
Those who follow politics closely will recognise that the title is similar to a Bill Lord Saatchi introduced to the House of Lords, which received its third reading in their Chamber shortly before the General Election.
I followed the progress of that Bill closely, especially at third reading, and whilst I agreed with the overall direction of the Bill, I could see where those that were not comfortable with it were coming from.
At the same time I knew George Freeman MP, a Minister who’s a friend of mine, was launching his "Accelerated Access Review of NHS adoption of medical innovation".
As George has said consistently: "The growing pressure from patients and medical charities for faster access to innovation, and the potential of the NHS as a world beating research 'engine' in 21st Century life and health science creates an opportunity for the UK to deliver benefits for patients, NHS and economy."
He rightly points out that we conduct some of the most important medical research here in the UK, with amazing breakthroughs in our battles against various diseases potentially coming down the research pipeline. This then puts pressure on innovators and the NHS to give access to new drugs and procedures at an earlier (yet still safe) stage.
Lord Saatchi's "Medical Innovation Bill" highlighted some of the important issues and obstacles to the adoption of innovation in the NHS. What I hope my Bill will do is take the best elements of Lord Saatchi's work and the ambition and early findings of George Freeman's review, and knit them together.
At the same time, I want it to ensure that the genuine concerns of those who had issues with Lord Saatchi's Bill at third reading in the Lords are taken into account.
Although I know this will involve a huge amount of work, I do think it can be done. By working with everyone, if we arrive at a piece of law that results in access to innovative medical treatments for those that require them, with all the appropriate legal and medical safeguards, then I will have done my job properly and hopefully done some good.
So what now?
Well, between now and the second reading of my bill, I intend to meet, talk to and read submissions from as many people as I can with an interest in this Bill and at some point in September I will start to draft its content.
If you'd like to make a submission to me, please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org