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

Hilary Benn again, a day of meetings, Lords and Commoners - our week in campaigning

by Hugh Adams

In last week’s blog, I wrote that a response from a minister, or from a constituency MP, is “not an end to the matter but the beginning of the conversation.” That is definitely the view of Hilary Benn MP who, having received a straight bat of a ministerial response last week and without new prompting from us, has now submitted another question asking the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care; “How much has been allocated from the public purse to research on glioma brain tumours in each of the last five years?”

We await the response with interest.

Collaboration has been very much at the forefront of our campaigning week.

A report published on Wednesday by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) highlighted just a few of the vital contributions AMRC charities make to the UK’s life sciences.

“Without Charities” makes the case for the Treasury to provide financial support for charity in order to ensure the UK remains a world-leader in research.

It highlights many of the vital contributions AMRC charities make to the UK’s life sciences sector: from establishing crucial infrastructure to fostering research talent, to supporting underfunded health areas.

As a fully supportive member of the AMRC, Brain Tumour Research applauds the contents of this report, is concerned by the findings and is happy to add our voice to the campaigning call.

Access the full report here

On Tuesday our first meeting of the day was courtesy of the Industry and Parliament Trust, and was a roundtable entitled “What Next for Cancer Treatment and the NHS.”  Parliamentarians, representatives of the pharmaceutical industry and a small number of charity representatives were in attendance. Speaker after speaker spoke of the world-class research being undertaken in the UK whilst also noting that UK cancer survival rates, in some areas, are among the worst in Europe – how can this be? The feeling in this meeting was that the middle ground between the scientist and the patient – primarily inhabited by the NHS is underperforming. It is difficult for the NHS, it is massively under pressure from this new enemy, however, more education, bolder decisions, an innovative spirit and a willingness to do things differently could all make our research excellence get to benefit patients quicker and more effectively. We must do all we can to encourage this.

Our second meeting of the day was with the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI), of whom we are a member, with fascinating content provided by the International Cancer Research Partnership (ICRP). This event, “Effect of COVID-19 on UK Cancer Research Spend” laid out the UK's place in the worldwide, pandemic impacted, research landscape. Watch this space (or our social media platforms) for some fascinating data in the next week or so - hopefully to coincide with World Cancer Research Day on Thursday 24th September

On Tuesday afternoon it was a meeting of Cancer 52’sPolicy and Public Affairs Steering Group Together we looked at how we can make sure the voice of rarer cancers (defined as all cancers outside the ‘big four’ of breast, prostate, lung and bowel) is heard when it comes to Government spending reviews, the cancer taskforce, NICE review, engaging with industry and so on.

I mentioned the Lords debate on Science Research Funding in Universities last week and should you wish to view proceedings they are here.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) (Con) provided the ministerial response part of which is below;

“We are right to be proud of the strength of our research and innovation base and the quality of our universities. Research, innovation and knowledge are the drivers of our global competitiveness and a key source of economic advantage. I assure noble Lords that we remain committed to maintaining the UK’s position as a global science superpower and that we will continue to invest in our universities and in the science and research that will deliver the long-term economic growth and societal ​benefits enriching the UK for many decades to come.”

“Ultimately, we want critical university research capability, including charity-funded medical research, to be sustained and able to contribute to our future R&D ambitions.”

Over in the Commons, recent questions from MPs Dr Lisa Cameron and Chi Onwurah on the plight of medical research funding charities prompted answers from Science minister Amanda Solloway MP who said “We continue to engage with the sector on ensuring the long-term sustainability of charity-funded research in universities. As part of this BEIS and DHSC officials are also meeting regularly with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) and with individual medical research charities.” 

You can read more of Ms Solloway’s response here

The #Braintumourpetition continues to bubble along nicely and, gratifyingly, we have had a really good number of new campaigner signups this week. If you’d like to join them please email me and I’ll add you to our database so you can receive my weekly updates emailed directly to you.

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