Brain Tumour Research joins Stormont launch

3 min read

Brain Tumour Research this week attended the launch of the Northern Ireland Cancer Charities Coalition (NICCC) in Stormont, Belfast. It was a fantastic opportunity to speak to Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) – including the Chair of the All-Party Group (APG) on Cancer – about the benefits of working in coalition and about Brain Tumour Research’s key priorities in Northern Ireland.

We attended a packed APG on Cancer meeting, in which NICCC Interim Chair Richard Spratt presented an update on the formation of the coalition. Addressing the meeting Richard said that the foundational purpose was to support people living with cancer and to develop a cohesive voice around the top line issues.

The news of the coalition was positively received by members of the APG. Members said that it was an opportunity to work together to improve outcomes. New Chair, Stewart Dickson MLA thanked the outgoing Chair, Paula Bradshaw MLA, for her work and said that the founding of the coalition represented an important moment for the sector.

There was also an excellent report by Action Cancer on patient satisfaction, presented by Dr Caroline Hughes and Dr Dan Middleton. Dr Hughes said that the key areas for improvement were mental health support and access to community services. The report can be accessed here: Your Cancer Journey Your Experience Initial Findings - Action Cancer.

Health Minister Mike Nesbitt later spoke at the reception, saying that cancer was “personal” to him, and mentioned the passing of his grandmother from cancer. He said that it wasn’t “dignified” and it was “pretty horrible”.

Mr Nesbitt said that there were three words by which his Department could be judged: “For…Better…Outcomes. If we’re not delivering those, we may be doing a lot in terms of inputs and outputs but if the outcomes are not right, then what’s the point?”

The Minister also thanked those present for the support to deliver the vision as set out in the Northern Ireland Cancer Strategy, saying it “provides a real opportunity that cancer services provided in the future deliver the best possible outcomes”.

He ended by affirming his commitment to his new role: “I wanted this job. I want this job. I’m going to make a difference in this job with your help.”

Our Policy and Public Affairs Manager Thomas said: “Overall it was a fantastic day at Stormont. We have started the conversation with elected representatives about ensuring better outcomes for the cancer community in Northern Ireland. This is just the beginning, but together we can make a difference. We also need to be having a wider conversation about research. Currently there’s no coherent research strategy in Northern Ireland – this urgently needs addressing.”

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