Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Public Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar
Inaugural Lecture: 'Promoting Public Interest and Patient Rights'
This lecture builds on a tradition of medico-legal teaching and research in Edinburgh Law School which was begun by Professors Mason and McCall-Smith. Their united voice has never followed trends in the field which privilege individualistic interests above community-based perspectives, but rather has sought more balanced positions weighing private, public and community interests. The Edinburgh tradition in medical law and ethics, then, represents complementary interdisciplinary contributions towards solutions that serve both private and public interests.
This lecture continues in this tradition by examining the tensions and challenges raised by health-related research involving patients’ personal information or tissue samples, and which may engender concerns about privacy or other harms. A growing emphasis on individual autonomy and patient choice has led to a culture of caution surrounding the conduct of health-related research and an ever-expanding role for governance. This paper questions whether currently the optimal balance is struck between the adequate protection of patients’ rights and the promotion of the public interest in scientifically-sound medical research. In particular, the lecture will focus on (a) the search for a clearer, more effective role for appeals to the public interest in law and governance, and (b) a consideration of patient responsibilities as well as sensitivity to their rights.