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Brain tumours kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer

Weekly Public Affairs Roundup

by Hugh Adams

This week has been another busy week in the world of politics, with the House of Lords holding a debate on support for the charitable sector during COVID-19 and NHS England offering a glimpse of its plans for future cancer treatments through the next phase of its COVID-19 response. Here at Brain Tumour Research we have been following both events very closely, seeking to ensure the voice of brain tumour patients and researchers in heard in Parliament and the NHS.

Our week started with us engaging with Members of the House of Lords – briefing them ahead of the debate on support for the charitable sector. In our briefing to members we outlined how for a charity such as ourselves, who receive no Government support, COVID-19 poses a tangible threat to the research we support. Our contribution to our ‘Centre’s of Excellence’ across the country is vital in keeping life-changing research alive. We made the case that we need grants from Government to support us through this challenging period, so that we can continue to perform our duty as a medical research charity.

In opening the debate, Lord Addington, told the Lords that the Lords Library briefing has estimated that in 12 weeks of lockdown it is possible that the voluntary and charitable sector will lose £4 billion. He pointed out that the Government have put in £750 million, which is welcome, but that at the Library’s estimate, this covers only 18.7% of the loss. It was gratifying that the impact of Covid – 19 on our income was mentioned by Baroness Hayter showing that our briefing was picked up and read by at least some of our target audience. However, what we need is to have more supportive members in the Upper House. Any recruitment support with this would be hugely appreciated

In other developments, NHS England released a letter to all Trust, CCG, GP and Community Care leaders outlining their plans for the next phase of their response to COVID-19. In the letter they explain that whilst Phase 2 will continue to see the NHS on a Level 4 Incident alert, there will now be a focus over the coming 6 weeks to increase non-COVID-19 operations.

On cancer specifically, the letter stated that providers have previously been asked to maintain access to essential cancer surgery and other treatment throughout the Covid19 pandemic, in line with guidance from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the NHS. It was also positive to see NHS have asked Trusts to ensure that referrals, diagnostics (including direct access diagnostics available to GPs) and treatment to be brought back to pre-pandemic levels at the earliest opportunity to minimise potential harm, and to reduce the scale of the post- pandemic surge in demand. They stated that urgent action should be taken by hospitals to receive new two-week wait referrals and provide two-week wait outpatient and diagnostic appointments at pre-Covid19 levels in Covid19 protected hubs/environments.

COVID-19 has been the most disruptive health impact of our lives, but brain tumours were around before the pandemic, they will be there afterwards and the need for the scientific research that underpins innovation and clinical breakthroughs will persist. Parity of funding, sustainability of funding. In this changing world our call will never change. You can find out more and join our campaigning taskforce here