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Key takeaways from the Labour manifesto launch 2024 

We’ve taken a close look at the pledges made in the Labour Party manifesto and what they could mean for people affected by a brain tumour.

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Yesterday the Labour Party launched its 2024 Manifesto outlining what policy decisions they’ll make if they win the General Election and form the next government. We’ve explored their plans for the NHS and how they might impact people affected by a brain tumour. 

Improving diagnosis 

Labour wants to see the NHS “back on its feet” and one of the things they’re committing to is to double the number of MRI and CT scanners. They hope that by doing this they’ll improve diagnosis times for patients – particularly people with cancer.  

Labour also want to train thousands more GPs and guarantee face-to-face appointments for people who’d like one. They also hope this will incentivise GPs to see the same patient repeatedly. This should mean ongoing or more complex conditions are dealt with effectively.  

Looking at increasing GP workforce capacity and the capacity of diagnostic machines could be incredibly important for people being diagnosed with a brain tumour. We know that currently too many people have a drawn out and difficult time getting a diagnosis. In fact, 41% of respondents to our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys said they had to visit their GP three or more times before getting a diagnosis. 

While some of the issue is due to GPs not having the time to spend very long with patients and the lack of diagnostic capacity, we know there are other barriers to people getting a brain tumour diagnosis. 

Labours pledges around diagnosis are welcome. However, we know they won’t completely solve the delays we regularly see in getting a fast and well-supported diagnosis. We still need to see GPs armed with better knowledge of the signs and symptoms of a brain tumour. They should also have the support to directly refer people with a suspected brain tumour for MRIs.  

What are we calling for in a National Brain Tumour Strategy?

We want to see the development of a new optimal diagnostic pathway ensuring everyone receives a fast and efficient diagnosis of a brain tumour.

Personalised and holistic care 

To tackle the workforce crisis within the NHS, Labour pledge to deliver the NHS Long-Term Workforce Plan. They’ve committed to publishing “regular, independent workforce planning, across health and social care”. 

Something else Labour will try to improve is putting patients and their families “at the heart of every medical decision”. Unfortunately, there’s not much detail laid out in their manifesto about what this will mean. So, we must wait to see what the full plans for this will be. But they want to make sure patients have all the information they need to navigate the health and care system.    

We know that getting the right information at the right time is key for people diagnosed with a brain tumour. Receiving information about their diagnosis, potential treatment and care options and participating in research all at once can be overwhelming. In fact, 59% of people who responded to our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys felt they needed more help understanding their brain tumour. 

However, we also know that Clinical Nurse Specialists (CNS) are integral to our community. Unfortunately, there’s no mention in this manifesto of the vital role a CNS plays in a person’s pathway. 

What are we calling for in a National Brain Tumour Strategy?

We must ensure every brain tumour patient and their family has good access to wraparound support, meeting all of their collective needs.

Treatment times 

Labour have committed to tackle the current NHS backlogs by pledging that people can expect to start treatment within 18 weeks from referral in England. One of the ways they’ll endeavour to do this is to introduce 40,000 more evening and weekend appointments. They’ll incentivise staff to take on these additional hours and will pool resources across neighbourhood hospitals. Hopefully, this will meant patients will be seen quicker. 

While this is good and reducing NHS backlogs will have knock-on benefits to other areas of capacity within the NHS, this policy is around “non-urgent health conditions”. 

We know people diagnosed with brain tumours need to start treatment more quickly, particularly people diagnosed with aggressive brain tumours. 

If Labour form the next government, we want to see much more action on ensuring people diagnosed with brain tumours can access the newest and best treatments as quickly as possible.  

More than anything, we need kinder, more effective treatments – and we need them now. 

What are we calling for in a National Brain Tumour Strategy?

A National Brain Tumour Strategy is needed to get patients the treatments they need. To get to this point we want to see: Every brain tumour patient being offered the chance to participate in clinical trials.

Changing the research landscape 

Labour’s manifesto recognises that industry, academia and government partnerships could turn the tide on research. It’s disappointing not to see charities also recognised as a key player in the research landscape within this policy – but a holistic approach is the right one.  

Labour have pledged to develop an NHS innovation and adoption strategy that’ll include: 

  • a clearer route for medicines into the NHS 
  • reformed incentive structures to drive innovation 
  • a faster regulatory approval for new technologies and medicines.  

They’ve also pledged to harness the use of the NHS app to improve recruitment to clinical trials. 

Improvements in the research landscape are absolutely integral to finding new treatments and, ultimately, cures for all brain tumours. Labours manifesto contains promising ideas which could benefit the brain tumour community – however, we must see further detail on them to know exactly how this will work in reality.  

We’d also like to see increased investment into research into brain tumours. Just 3.2% of the over £700 million invested in UK cancer research funding in 2019/20 was spent on brain tumours (this percent includes £6.6m of spending by The Brain Tumour Charity).  

Investment and landscape reform are both needed to maximise our chances of discovering cures. This is why a National Brain Tumour Strategy is absolutely essential. It will guarantee we tackle the barriers faced by the brain tumour community holistically, not just issue by issue. 

What are we calling for in a National Brain Tumour Strategy?

A National Brain Tumour Strategy can help support advancements in research. For the UK to continue being a life science hub, we want to see research into brain tumours recognised as a clinical priority alongside a strategic plan for adequately resourcing and funding for discovery, translational and clinical research.

We won’t allow the brain tumour community to be forgotten!

Whoever is elected as the next Government, we can’t – and won’t – allow the brain tumour community to be forgotten. We’ll work with the new Government to highlight the unmet needs of people affected by brain tumours and to develop a National Brain Tumour Strategy that:

  • improves diagnosis times
  • provides wraparound care for all
  • advances kinder, more effective treatments
  • pushes for innovations in research.

Our handy General Election 2024 toolkit can help you engage prospective candidates during this election period to make sure better brain tumour care and research is a No Brainer for the next Government.