A grieving father who lost his only son to a brain tumour is demanding to know how a multi-million pound investment which was promised to help find a cure for the disease has been spent.
Following the death of his son Stephen, a trainee pilot with the RAF, Peter Realf and his family were at the forefront of a campaign which resulted in a Government pledge to revolutionise research into brain tumours in the UK with a £20m cash injection from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). This was followed by a further £20m from the DHSC following the loss of politician Dame Jessa Jowell to an aggressive brain tumour in May 2018.
But now, two years on, Peter is asking Parliamentarians how and if any of this money has been spent. He will be taking part in the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours (APPGBT) today. The session which normally takes place at Westminster will be held online for the first time because of Covid-19.
Working with the charity Brain Tumour Research, Peter and his family secured more than 120,000 signatures on an e-petition calling for funding. This was followed by a Westminster Hall debate, a DHSC Task & Finish working group and the subsequent announcement of the significant research investment which was to be made through the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) over five years from March 2018.
Peter, from Rugby, said: “Two years on, I want to know how the promised £40m has been spent and what opportunities this money might present at this time of financial jeopardy for research which has been caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
He added: “Research gave my son hope. The campaigning we have done since Stephen died in August 2014 at the age of 26 and the impact we have had since, has given me the belief that he didn’t die in vain. But the bold words and optimism of 2018 need to be matched by actions and those making such announcements need to know they will be held to account.
“When my son was diagnosed in 2008 his oncologist said ‘who knows what we will know about brain tumours in 10 years time?’ This gave him hope; research gave him hope; he hoped things would change, improve and save him. My hope for other families lives on through research.”
Mike Batley, Deputy Director of Research Programmes at DHSC is expected to update the APPGBT on the status of the NIHR funding for brain tumour research and explain recent progress.
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