A Bill that would allow doctors to experiment on dying patients has won overwhelming support from the public, according to a report.

The Medical Innovations Bill would allow new techniques or unapproved drugs to be used on patients when they are near to death and there is no prospect of saving them.

More than 18,000 people and groups, including doctors, scientists, charities and patients, lent their support to the idea during the consultation process, The Daily Telegraph said. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has said he will back the bill if public opinion agrees.

A new version of the proposed legislation – originally introduced by Lord Saatchi in 2012 -- will be put to the House of Lords on Thursday.

Lord Saatchi, who began a campaign to change the law following the death of his wife, Josephine Hart, from ovarian cancer, said: “Over the past few months, in one of the largest public consultations ever undertaken in this country, the people have agreed that there is a problem with how we are treating some of the sickest in our society.

“We have a culture of defensive medicine in the NHS, a culture created by the fear of litigation that hangs over doctors. Last year, the health service paid £1.2bn in lawsuits.

“The Bill has obviously touched a nerve. Why? Because people know that all cancer deaths are wasted lives.

“If the Bill receives Royal Assent after scrutiny in both Houses of Parliament, good doctors will be protected and encouraged by the law.”

Dominic Nutt, a spokesman for the Bill, said the new version of the legislation had been “steeled in the furnace of vociferous public debate”.

“It remains true to its original two principles: to give doctors legal clarity and confidence when they wish to innovate, and to stop the quack experimenting recklessly on vulnerable patients,” he said.

“At the moment, a doctor who uses standard treatments, according to the proscribed guidelines, cannot be sued even if the patient dies. A doctor who deviates, who tries something new, risks ending up in court.”

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