Your report response prompts MPs to engage.

5 min read

I wouldn’t describe myself as prone to hyperbole but the only way I can start this week’s blog is by writing “WOW!”

Last week we asked you, our campaigners, to contact your MPs about the #BrainTumourPetition report and almost 500 of you did.

(If you aren’t on our database as a campaigner, email me, and I’ll add you to the growing list of people receiving these weekly updates via email. It would be great to have you on the team).

This is extraordinary – thank you.

Did all the MPs contacted tweet as requested? No, but some did.

Did they all reply to your emails?  No, but many did.

Are they now on our radar as we push our agenda forward? Absolutely, all of them are.

Just a quick word on some of the written replies that you have received from your elected representatives. I have read some comments about them being ‘cut and paste’ or formulaic. Don’t be too hard on your MPs. They receive a deluge of communication every day and they, or one of their team, have taken the time to reply. MPs can’t be an expert in all areas so as a support service for Conservative MPs there is the Policy Research Unit (PRU) - there are similar resources for other parties. The Policy Research Unit is a non-profit making, pooled research facility based in the Houses of Parliament and provides briefing, research, correspondence and related support for members in support of their Parliamentary duties. Essentially MPs can ask the PRU for the facts and figures surrounding a particular issue (in our case brain tumours) and be confident they are being given accurate information which they can use in response to constituent questions. The information provided by the PRU is dynamic and will change as we push the agenda further forward.

One group of replies I didn’t mention above is the most positive, and there have been a number of these, and is where an MP has offered to raise our agenda via written or oral questions posed to Ministers and we will be taking these opportunities forward.

We have also had one MP disclosing a very personal reason why they are supportive of our cause.

I mentioned a deluge of communication earlier and that could describe my inbox this week. I will get to every one of your emails requesting support or information for your MPs and, as I said, we will be working directly with the MPs who have offered to ask and write questions on brain tumour research funding.

So, thanks for beginning the conversation. Next week we’ll be asking you to continue this conversation by asking your MP to attend the next meeting of the APPG on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) which will be held on Tuesday 18th May from 09:00 – 10:00.

In other news this week new data from the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) shows that brain tumour research still represents just 1% of the national spend on cancer. We welcome the increase in spend on brain tumour research from £14.2 million to £15.5 million, of which Brain Tumour Research contributed £1.3 million. In the 2019 / 20 pre-covid financial year, brain tumour research represented 2.33% of the £669 million national spend on cancer, but over the 18 years since records began it still represents just 1%. The spend on breast cancer remained at 7.76% and at £52 million is £35 million more than the amount spent on brain tumour research. The spend on leukaemia remained at £35 million (5.2%), prostate £25 million (3.80%), yet brain tumours are still the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40.

Finally, this week, the Association of Medical Research Charities, of which we are a member, have outlined key facts and figures about the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on medical research charities over the last year. Find out more about ‘One year on for medical research charities’ here.

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