Nine NHS hospital brain tumour centres have today been recognised as a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence following the first round of rigorous expert-led assessments by the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission.
With more than 12,000 people diagnosed every year with a primary brain tumour in the UK, the award has been introduced to recognise hospitals for their excellence in patient care.
The assessments included virtual site visits and were led by a committee of experts in the field including from The Brain Tumour Charity. Centres were measured on a range of criteria including excellent clinical practice and training opportunities; emphasis on patient quality of life; providing clinical trials and offering a high standard of research opportunities.
Patient insight was at the heart of the process, with the assessments also involving feedback from 880 patients, collected by The Brain Tumour Charity through our Improving Brain Tumour Care Surveys.
The first nine centres to achieve Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence status are:
1 University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
2 Edinburgh Centre for Neuro-oncology
3 King’s College Hospital & Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals
4 Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
5 Salford Royal Foundation Trust & The Christie
6 Newcastle-upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
7 Nottingham University Hospitals
8 St George’s University Hospital, Royal Marsden Hospital & Royal Surrey County Hospital
9 University College Hospital London NHS Foundation Trust
The “Excellence” status also provides positive recognition for NHS staff who, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, continue to go above and beyond for their patients. Centres are increasingly adapting to the challenges of Covid-19, including offering virtual clinics for their patients.
Following the recognition of the first nine centres, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission has committed to helping as many hospitals as possible achieve “Excellence” status in the future, including by launching a national platform to allow hospitals to share best-practice to improve their services, as well as one-year fellowships for doctors to further specialise in brain tumours.
It is hoped that with the support of the Academy more centres will qualify for excellence status in the future, extending the reassurance of excellent NHS care more broadly and ensuring no patient is left behind.
Sarah Lindsell, CEO at The Brain Tumour Charity, said:
“This is a major step forward in driving up standards for brain tumour patients across the UK and reducing variation in NHS care.
“This has been an extremely difficult year for the brain tumour community, and it’s really encouraging that, despite significant pressure and disruption, these centres have been able to provide excellent care and services to many.
“When Baroness Tessa Jowell first came to us, she was absolutely determined to address the disparate nature of brain tumour services and experiences across the country – and we’re delighted that this network will help bring us closer to this vision.
“Crucially, it’s fantastic that patients’ views, as experts by experience, have been at the heart of these assessments in identifying best practice across the country – and we hope this programme will now continue to be a catalyst for change. For everyone affected by a brain tumour, we urgently need to ensure access to the best care everywhere.”
Jess Mills, Co-Founder of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission and Tessa’s daughter, said: “Mum's mission throughout 50 years of her political life was to tackle systemic inequality. So, it was tragic whilst fitting, that her final campaign was a call to arms to create universal equality in access to excellence in cancer care throughout the NHS. It is with immeasurable pride that just three years later, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission has begun the real-world translation of that vision into reality.
“We are thrilled to have awarded nine centres for their excellent ongoing work for patients and commitment to support other centres in reaching the same level of Excellence. Shockingly, the UK still has one of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe, but in time, the Tessa Jowell Centres will make the UK a global leader in the treatment and care of brain tumour patients. We have a long way to go until the cutting edge of science is delivered to every patient, but this is a huge and transformational first step.”
Professor Richard Gilbertson, Chair of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, highlights: “When we put out a call to apply, we received an overwhelming and enthusiastic response from the community. There was a real sense of pride from NHS staff about the service they have been providing and how they strive to provide the very best care for patients, even in the midst of a pandemic.
"All applying hospitals were working to provide best care and we will be supporting those not yet ready for Centre of Excellence status to enact best practice across all areas. We will use the evidence collected from the applications forms to make strong case to further equip these centres.”