How Medical Researchers' Hands Are Tied; Professor Chris Foster, Lecturer in Pathology at Liverpool University, Argues Bureaucracy Is Limiting Disease Research

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Foster

MEDICINE strives to find the cause of diseases and aims to discover the best methods of treating these diseases. To achieve these aims, it is necessary for pathologists to analyse tissues and other samples from patients.

Without uninhibited access to human tissues there can be no accurate diagnoses and no treatments specific to individual patients.

Since the Alder Hey inquiry, there has been an unreasonable, and generally uninformed, response to the perceived work of pathologists, diagnosticians and medical research.

The consequence has been a catastrophic decline in the ability of the medical profession to conduct its business.

Furthermore, identification of new diagnostic techniques, particularly for diseases such as cancer, and the development of appropriate management strategies have been compromised.

So-called ``patient confidentiality'' has resulted in absurd and unnecessary restrictions on the recording of many human diseases.

Most damaging has been the embargo on reporting new cancers to cancer registries.

As a consequence, there is no longer the possibility of obtaining a clear picture of malignant disease in the community, or of accurately assessing the cancer treatment across the UK. …