Parliamentarians support call for increased funding for medical research charities amid pandemic

Fifty-one Westminster parliamentarians have signed a letter calling on the Chancellor to establish a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, to protect medical research charity funding amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

28 October 2020

Cells on a plate science research

Fifty-one Westminster Parliamentarians (34 MPs and 17 Peers) have signed a cross party letter calling on the Treasury to establish a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, a scheme designed to support medical research charities who are suffering from a severe reduction in income as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The letter, coordinated by SNP Health Spokesperson and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Neale Hanvey MP and Children with Cancer UK, highlights how without Government support, the short-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in long-term consequences for the future of medical research and development and the urgent need for financial support.

Children with Cancer UK, the leading national charity dedicated to research into childhood cancer, has warned that it is facing an income loss of around 40% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity is warning that without further support, much of its planned medical research will be cancelled, setting back cancer research and the discovery of better, kinder treatments by many years.

Dr Jasmine Parkinson, Children with Cancer UK’s Research and Grants Manager commented:

Children with Cancer UK is currently facing a funding gap of between £4-5 million as a result of COVID-19. This decline in funds will severely impact the amount that charities such as ours can pledge towards the funding of potentially life-saving medical research projects. Since our formation the research we have helped fund has led to an increase in childhood cancer survival rates and the discovery of more effective cancer treatments with fewer side effects. Sadly, without further support future developments are at risk.

Parliamentarians are asking for the Government to provide at least £310 million of funding in the financial year of 2020/21 to a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, a proposal put forward by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), who are the membership organisation of leading medical and health research charities in the UK. The AMRC is predicting an overall reduction in UK medical research investment of between £252-£368 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The establishment of such a fund would secure medical research charities for the next three years and preserve research charities’ vital and unique contributions to the UK’s society and economy.

The letter was signed by a range of SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs and Peers including – SNP Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Dr Phillipa Whitford,  Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse, Labour MPs Tony Lloyd and Andrew Gywnne and Conservative Peers Baroness Altman and Lord Balfe.

Neale Hanvey, SNP Health Spokesperson and Member of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, coordinated the letter and following its submission to the Chancellor said:

Every day across these islands, 12 families get the heart-breaking news that their child has cancer. As a parent, I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.

Despite the fact my much of my clinical and academic nursing work focused on teenage cancer care, I still find the statistics shocking. Around 4,500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer each year and cancer is still the most common cause of death in under-15s in the UK.

That’s why I’m calling on the UK Government to set up a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund so that life-saving research and development can continue in the battle against childhood cancer.

The reality is we can make a difference and this fund would ensure the quality of life of survivors continues to improve.

Editors’ Notes

Children with Cancer UK’s press office

E: media@childrenwithcancer.org.uk

T: 0207 404 0808 M: 07 795 956 342

About Children with Cancer UK

Children with Cancer UK is the leading national charity dedicated to research into childhood cancer.

We fund research into the causes and treatment of childhood cancers and provide support for families affected by childhood cancer. We have accelerated breakthroughs to improve childhood cancer survival rates and find kinder, more effective treatments with fewer toxic side effects. This ground-breaking research, which would otherwise go unfunded, saves the lives of children with cancer.  Children with Cancer UK receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of donations from supporters.

About childhood cancer and Children with Cancer UK’s impact

Every day in the UK, 12 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer.

Fifty years ago, only 30% of children with leukaemia survived, and for most other forms of childhood cancer survival rates were even lower. Today, thanks to our supporters and the dedication of visionary researchers like those we fund, more than 80% of young patients can be successfully treated. More vital research is needed though as there are still a number of cancers affecting children and young people with low survival rates and life-limiting side effects. Cancer remains the single largest cause of death from disease in children and young people in the UK.