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Key takeaways from the Liberal Democrat manifesto launch 2024

We’ve taken a deep dive into the pledges made in the Liberal Democrat manifesto and what they could mean for the brain tumour community.

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Today the Liberal Democrats were the first major party to publish their manifesto ahead of the General Election 2024. Their For a Fair Deal manifesto was launched with call to “save the NHS”, but what could the pledges set out in the manifesto mean for the brain tumour community?

Improving diagnosis

The Liberal Democrats pledged to increase the number of full-time equivalent GPs by 8,000 through both recruitment and better retention schemes. Their aim is for all patients to be given a right to an appointment with the most appropriate practice staff member within a week – or 24 hours if urgent.

They’ve also proposed a review of diagnostic provision across the NHS and the implementation of a new 10-year strategic diagnostic plan.

Their manifesto also sets out the creation of a new Patients Charter that would harness people’s lived experience to empower patients and would include a new legal right for a second opinion.

While we don’t know the details of these plans, improving GP and diagnostic capacity is welcome. We know that addressing workforce challenges is an important factor in getting a faster diagnosis, so seeing an increase in the number of full time GPs is a positive step.

However, we must ensure that clinicians – particularly GPs – receive more training to recognise the signs and symptoms of brain tumours. This will help prevent the need for people to see their GP multiple times before finally receiving a referral for diagnosis.

We know this is a common challenge for the brain tumour community, with 41% of respondents to our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys having to visit their GP three or more times before getting a diagnosis.

Personalised and holistic care

The Liberal Democrat manifesto pledges to better support people going through the health and care system. They outlined a commitment to recruit more cancer nurses so that every patient has a dedicated specialist supporting them through treatment.

This has been promised before – for example, in the NHS Long Term Plan and the interim Major Conditions Strategy – so we need more than promises. We need action now to make sure people diagnosed with cancerous, high grade tumours and people diagnosed with non-cancerous, low grade tumours are supported by a specialist nurse so their needs don’t go unmet.

Reflecting on his own experience of being a carer, the Liberal Democrat leader, Ed Davey, pledged that unpaid carers would be given more help – including mental health support and financial assistance.

Access to the right support at the right time is a common challenge for the brain tumour community. In fact, 58% of people who responded to our National Brain Tumour Strategy said they needed extra support managing the symptoms and side-effects of their brain tumour.

That’s why we want to see a National Brain Tumour Strategy in place that provides wraparound support and care for everybody in the brain tumour community – whether they’ve been diagnosed themselves or they’re supporting a loved one with a diagnosis.

Reducing health inequalities

The Liberal Democrat manifesto calls to boost cancer survival rates through a series of plans. This includes a guarantee for 100% of patients to start treatment for cancer within 62 days from urgent referral.

They also pledged to upgrade technology and digital tools across the NHS, including replacing the ageing radiotherapy machines. As well as increasing the number of radiotherapy machines “so no one has to travel too far for treatment”. This will support their goal of ending the postcode lottery of service provision and providing national, high-quality care for everyone who needs it.

These ambitions are welcome. Particularly as we know the community sometimes have to travel distances to receive treatment. But further steps are needed to improve the quality of care and treatment for brain tumours. More than anything, we need kinder, more effective treatments – and we need them now.

Investing in research

As part of their promises to “fix the NHS”, the Liberal Democrats have outlined their plans to invest further into research. If elected, they’ve proposed passing a Cancer Survival Research act. This which would require the Government to coordinate and ensure funding for research into the cancers with the lowest survival rates.

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), so this is a positive step forward for research into brain tumours.

They’ve also vowed to halve the time for new cancer treatments to reach patients by expanding the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s capacity. This could mean faster access to new and novel medicines and medical devices – unblocking a current barrier to getting medicines to market for brain tumours.

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.