The Scottish Parliament has held its first debate on brain tumours since 2017.
The Wear A Hat Day debate was held yesterday (Tuesday 18th April) and was introduced by Emma Harper MSP, inspired by her constituent Alan Johnstone who lost his wife Anneka to a brain tumour.
The debate saw cross-party contribution from seven MSPs, who spoke about the need for increased research funding and the importance of early diagnosis. Many also shared their constituents’ brain tumour stories, including Jackie Dunbar MSP who spoke about Brain Tumour Research supporter Suzanne Davies, who is nine years on from her diagnosis with a glioblastoma (GBM).
Paul Sweeney MSP (pictured), Shadow Minister for Mental Health, emphasised that despite the prevalence and devastating impact of brain tumours, just 1% of the national investment in cancer research has been allocated to the disease. He highlighted the work Brain Tumour Research is doing to increase that investment to £35 million per year and commended the charity on “building capacity in pioneering research” through its Centre of Excellence strategy.
There were encouraging statements from Dr Sandhesh Gulhane MSP, who called on the Government to “get real about research”, urging for brain tumours and other less survivable cancers to be prioritised as a clinical priority, with a strategic plan to resource research. Whilst Beatrice Wishart MSP – who sponsored our Wear A Hat Day photocall at Holyrood during Brain Tumour Awareness Month – called on colleagues to join her and Jim Fairlie MSP in creating a cross-party group so the disease remains a top political priority. Beatrice’s motivation to support our cause is her daughter who has a brain tumour.
Jenny Minto MSP, described it as a “privilege” to respond on behalf of the Scottish Government in her first speech as Minister for Public Health and welcomed Brain Tumour Research supporters into the chamber. The Minister spoke about a 10-year cancer strategy to launch in spring this year, which will take a comprehensive approach to improving patient pathways, from prevention and diagnosis through to treatment and post-treatment care.
Watch a recording of the debate here.