Your #braintumourpetition is handed in to No 10

4 min read

The voices of more than 81,000 of you were heard at Westminster this week. On Wednesday our petition calling for increased Government investment in research into brain tumours was delivered to the Prime Minister.

Our Patrons, Theo Burrell and Danny Clarke, along with ambassador, Sam Suriakumar, and campaigner, Nicola Nuttall, joined Brain Tumour Research CEO Dan Knowles on the steps of Number 10. They delivered our petition demanding the Government recognises brain tumour research as a critical priority, and increases research investment to put brain tumours in line with the spend on cancers of breast, bowel and lung, as well as leukaemia.

Dan said: “We are calling on the Government to ring-fence £110 million of current and new funding to kick-start an increase in the national investment in brain tumour research to £35 million a year by 2028.”

Antiques Roadshow expert Theo is living with glioblastoma (GBM). Danny lost his sister Margot to the same type of brain tumour. And Nicola's daughter, Laura, was also lost to GBM at the age of 23. Sam, a father-of-two, is currently having treatment for a glioma which was diagnosed during lockdown. Their voices are united in echoing the demands of everyone who signed our petition.

Dan added: “In the last 20 years, research spend in the UK on breast cancer has been six times more than brain tumours. Leukaemia has received four times more funding. Since the 1970s, 10-year survival rates for breast cancer have doubled and, in the case of leukaemia, increased six-fold since the 1970s. UK universities deliver world-class research and are poised to make further breakthroughs. Now is the time for the Government to invest in our globally-leading research institutions in order to deliver cures."

Thank you to everyone who signed our petition. We're determined to keep up this momentum as we work towards our vision to find a cure for all types of brain tumours. 

Prior to handing in the petition, the group assembled with other brain tumour research campaigners outside the Houses of Parliament and then in a room in One Parliament Street where they were joined by Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT), Derek Thomas MP, and also by the Health Minister with responsibility for major conditions, Andrew Stephenson MP (pictured above with Dan). Mr Stephenson is also the constituency MP for Nicola, and Laura undertook some work experience in his office.

It was fantastic to have such access to the minister who has already stressed that brain tumours are a "personal priority" and below are some of the comments he made in response to the thoughts and queries from our campaigners.

On working with the APPG:

“For me, I really want to work with the APPG and I’m keen to work with the charity to see what we can achieve. And for everyone in this room, I understand that this is a heartbreaking challenge.”

On what the brain tumour community can do:

“Lobbying MPs, pushing on these kinds of things. I probably answer two or three debates a week on different conditions. There are lot of MPs and lots of disease specific charities pushing for different things. You are pushing on an open door with me because this is very close to my heart.

 "Because of the work of Will (Quince MP, Mr Stephenson's predecessor), the APPG and because of the work of others, this has already moved to being a priority.”

On childhood cancers:

“I’m hoping to be making some very positive announcements on childhood cancers.”

On the progress the Government is making:

“Things are already moving forward. I’m keen to see what more we can do. We just need you to keep doing exactly what you are doing…and bringing the evidence to me. The challenge is identifying the barriers and finding a way to overcome them.”

On MPs’ support for the brain tumour community:

“I think there is broad cross-party support for this condition. The good work will continue regardless of the result of the next election."

On working with Brain Tumour Research to improve the situation:

“We’ve got to start by getting the foundations right. It would appear, from my initial look at this, a lot of the blockages sit below the political level.

"Ensuring we get those foundations right is absolutely critical and therefore when I meet with Brain Tumour Research, and Lucy Chappell – head of NIHR at the same time, hopefully that will allow us to understand the processes and the outcomes of the current system. Hopefully that will be the way that we can change things, and move things forward.”

Coincidentally, as you can see in the picture above, we met Will Quince while we were on our way to Downing Street and we were pleased to hear of his intention to continue supporting our work and our mission from the backbenches. We would also like to thank the other MPs who joined us at various points on Wednesday – Peter Aldous, Greg Smith, Ben Everitt,  Iain Stewart, Holly Mumby Croft, John McDonnell, Ruth Cadbury and Sir John Hayes – but the biggest thanks goes to the campaigners who joined and to those of you who encouraged your MPs to support our day at the #braintumourpetition Downing Street hand in.

Here are the details of what we have written to the Prime Minister, the contents of which were in the petition box that we delivered to Number 10. As soon as we have a reply from the PM we will let you all know.

In the House of Lords this week, Lord Hunt of King’s Heath, a member of the APPGBT, a great friend to the charity and an advocate for continuous and sustainable research for those with brain tumours, asked the Government to make an assessment of recent analysis by Cancer Research UK projecting a £1 billion funding gap for cancer research

In his response to Lord Hunt, Viscount Camrose, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology said that the Government remained “fully committed” to tackling cancer by investing in cutting-edge cancer research.  

In 2022/23, it invested almost £122 million via the National Institute for Health and Care Research, while UK Research and Innovation invests around £200 million annually. The Minister added he was confident that the Government’s “unwavering commitment will lead to continued improvements for cancer patients”. 

Lord Hunt thanked the Minister for the Government’s commitment to long-term investment, before saying that around two thirds of UK cancer research was funded by charities. He called for increased support and recognition for research charities, which depend on the generosity of the public. 

There were also notable contributions from Lord Carter of Haslemere who challenged the Government to raise their game, stating that the US government spends five times more than the UK on cancer research.  

Lord Hallam asked about the cross-Government approach being taken to ensure maximum investment.  

Viscount Camrose said the cross-Government and the cross-sector approaches were crucial. He cited the UK Cancer Research Strategy Forum as being an example of good practice.  

Following the debate Thomas commented: “We welcome this mini debate on research funding. Through our campaigning, we strive to increase awareness of the lack of funding for cancer research and particularly dedicated funding for research into brain tumours. We are clear that only through more research will we get closer to finding a cure.”

That is it for this week, and quite a week it has been.

There will be another update next Friday.

Wishing you all a peaceful time until then and as always thank you all for your support

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