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Our Work in Parliament

Just 1% of national spend on cancer research has been allocated to brain tumours

Task & Finish Working Group on brain tumour research

In February 2018, a Department of Health & Social Care (DHSC) Task and Finish Working Group, established following an unprecedented e-petition where 120,129 signatories demanded more investment in brain tumour research, published its conclusions. 

Chaired by Professor Chris Whitty, the DHSC Chief Scientific Adviser, and including clinicians, charities, a patient carer, and officials, the Working Group has closely analysed the complex issues around research into brain tumours in the UK. 

Read the Report here

The Task and Finish Working Group came to a series of conclusions:

  • Dedicated brain tumour research centres are an effective way of expanding and developing research capacity and capability. 
  • The current processes for collection, storage and sharing of brain tumour tissue, blood samples and clinical data are not optimal for the latest research requirements.
  • Appropriate drugs, originally developed for other conditions but with potential for the effective treatment of brain tumours, should be ‘re-purposed’ where the evidence supports it.
  • Sub–speciality training for neuro-oncology should be included in the curriculum and appropriate time should be ring-fenced to allow consultants to carry out research.
  • Funders should highlight that applications focused on brain tumour research are particularly welcome. These include studies on the development of pre-clinical models, tumour detection, radiotherapy, surgery, drug development, and clinical trials. 

  • The UK tumour and neurosciences research communities should work together to explore opportunities for research collaborations.
  • Patient health data, with the appropriate permission, should be available for use in research to accelerate the development of new treatments.
  • More coordination and cooperation within the brain tumour research community is essential to accelerate progress in the field.

The Working Group was established by the then Minister for Life Sciences, George Freeman MP during an April 2016 Parliamentary debate that saw over 70 MPs gather to discuss brain tumours.

This debate only took place thanks to the efforts of the brain tumour community, particularly Brain Tumour Research activists the Realf family. Stephen Realf, who tragically passed away in August 2014, was the inspiration for the successful e-petition calling for more brain tumour research funding. Launched by his parents, Liz and Peter and his sister Maria Lester, the e-petition quickly attracted 120,129 signatures, prompting politicians to finally examine the topic of brain tumours, which have been neglected by successive Governments for decades.

Parliamentary Petitions

Brain Tumour Research uses Parliamentary e-petitions as an opportunity for our supporters and activists to be heard by Government and Parliament. We only work with the official UK Parliamentary petitions as these are the only petitions that the Government formally recognise and to which they are required to respond.

How the House of Commons petitions process works

Once a member of the public creates a petition on the Parliamentary website it will stay open for six months, as long as it is approved. If a petition attracts 10,000 signatures, the Government will issue a response.

Should a petition reach 100,000 signatures, the Petitions Committee will consider the petition for debate in Parliament. Debates involve constituency MPs giving speeches as well as statements from a Government Minister and a member of the Official Opposition. Members of the public can request to watch, but are not permitted to speak in the debate.

Live petitions

Petitions about brain tumour research are created and driven by our supporters and activists. If you would like to set up a petition, please contact our Public Affairs & Campaigning team on or call us on 01908 867200 and we’ll be happy to help you set it up and maximise awareness and success for your petition.

Whilst we welcome the additional exposure that campaigning on platforms such as Avaaz, 38 Degrees, etc can bring, we focus our resources on challenging the Government only via official Parliamentary e-petitions

There are currently no live Parliamentary petitions about brain tumours. 

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