We previously summarised the Lefroy Bill in January. The Bill received its final reading in the House of Lords on 25 March 2015, and received Royal Assent the next day. The Act requires the Secretary of State to make regulations that CQC-regulated services must not cause avoidable harm to service users, and it provides for a system of consistent identifiers to be used across health and care records. In addition, the Act amends the objectives of the Professional Standards Authority and the healthcare professional regulators, so that their overarching objective will be the protection of the public. As part of this, the regulators must seek: (a) to protect, promote and maintain the health, safety and well-being of the public; (b) to promote and maintain public confidence in the professions; and (c) to promote and maintain proper professional standards and conduct for members of those professions. The final Act has changed very little from the Bill we reviewed in January, although it is not yet clear when it will come into force.
However the Medical Innovation Bill, which we reviewed in October, has not been so successful. The Bill aimed to prevent negligence claims against doctors who use new treatments for patients where other treatments have been unsuccessful. The Bill was particularly controversial as to whether this would allow pioneering treatments to be used or would risk patient safety.
The Bill successfully passed through the House of Lords and had its first reading in the Commons on 26 January. However by the end of February Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, was informed that the Liberal Democrats would not support the Bill on its passage through the commons, effectively vetoing it, due to public concerns. Norman Lamb, a Liberal Democrat health Minister, suggested that there could be an independent review of the proposals due to report back after the election. However, this has not yet been commissioned; no doubt it will now have to wait until after the General Election and will be subject to the new government's priorities.