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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £30-35 million a year

NHS England talk with UK cancer charities

Today, as we have done for several weeks, we joined the weekly teleconference facilitated by NHS England and aimed at UK cancer charities to inform them of cancer policy during the coronavirus pandemic. Over 60 cancer charities were on this valuable call.

Led by Cally Palmer, National Cancer Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement topics included Covid free cancer hubs, the drop in urgent cancer referrals and financial support for cancer charities in these uncertain times.

The plans for Covid-free surgical hubs are being rolled out with seven of the planned 21 in place. Of course, to have surgery a patient needs to be identified as having a surgical need and what is clear is the diagnostic pathway is changing. This is currently a cause for concern as there has been a significant drop in urgent cancer referrals. This is no doubt following the early pandemic messaging that seemed to portray hospitals as “dangerous” and GP’s surgeries as being “overwhelmed”. People who would normally have presented with symptoms to their GP or at A&E were staying at home. The case needs to be made that the NHS is open, Coronavirus numbers are plateauing and there is surplus bed capacity.

Of course our main focus is research funding and our Chief Executive fed questions in to the mix about what financial support there might be for research focussed charities. We know that there is a promise of £750 million from the National Lottery Community Fund and Central Government as stabilisation funding for charities but this will focus on front line charities supporting immediate need and not sustainability of the type required by research.

Our concerns will now be fedback to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). It is all very much a work in progress with new strategies and plans being drawn up in a fast changing landscape and more questions than answers but be assured we will join the call again next week and we will again make sure the case for sustained and stabilised brain tumour research funding is made at the highest level.

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