Policy blog: The last day of the 2018 Labour Party conference

Thursday 27 September 2018

Cameron Miller, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, reports from day three at the 2018 Labour Party annual conference

Yesterday marked the last day of campaigning at the 2018 Labour Party annual conference.

We spoke with Seema Malhorta MP, Chris Williamson MP, Nic Dakin MP (pictured with Cameron) and Luciana Berger MP about the potential of BRIAN for empowering patients and improving outcomes.

Speaking with a GP, who had never diagnosed a brain tumour in his career, we stressed the success and importance of our HeadSmart campaign, which alone has reduced brain tumour diagnosis times from presentation of first symptoms to six and a half weeks from three months.

Significant announcements were made during speeches from Shadow Secretaries during the conference, notably from Jon Ashworth MP.

On Tuesday he announced that a Labour government would scrap hospital car parking charges.

We welcomed the Hospital Car Parking Charges (Abolition) Bill tabled by Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow.

Our community will often make numerous journeys to hospital following their diagnosis, including for surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and follow-up appointments and we believe parking charges places an unjust financial burden on them.

Also during his speech, the Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, pledged to create a dedicated travel scheme for young cancer patients and their families, ensuring the NHS covers all costs associated with travel to and from hospital for cancer treatment.

The £5 million annual Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund will be available to all children in England, regardless of income.

The travel fund “will ensure that all children, regardless of background, have access to the best possible treatment and are supported every step of the way on their road to recovery", Ashworth announced.

We welcomed and backed CLIC Sargent's campaign to provide free travel to those children and families who travel to receive cancer treatment.

According to research conducted by CLIC Sargent, children and young people with cancer are forced into travelling an average of 60 miles for treatment, often for specialist cancer care which isn't available at their local hospital.

We congratulate our friends at CLIC Sargent wholeheartedly on this, and wish them all the best in now convincing the Government to adopt a similar scheme.

Due to its rarity, treatment for children and young people's cancer is delivered in specialist treatment centres across the country, known as Principal Treatment Centres.

One thing missing from Jon Ashworth's speech was the use of data and technology to improve health services, something that the current Secretary of State, Matt Hancock MP, has very much put front and centre of his agenda.

We know, from our work on BRIAN, the potential that data has to transform outcomes for brain tumour patients. We hope that this is something the Shadow Secretary of State will look at in the near future.

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