All Party Parliamentary Group on Cancer

I was lucky enough to goto this meeting last week at Westminster on behalf of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.  As with all of these things I never quite know what to expect when I get there.  Sometimes it’s highly interactive and you need your wits about you and other times it’s just a case of listening to speeches that generally dont inform you about anything.

Well, this event was for sure the former!  About 50 people all in  and a mix of MPs, Members of the Lords, Medics, Charities, Patients, Carers. Couldn’t have been much broader if it had tried.  Initially they split us into groups of around 5 to formulate the key questions we wanted the Minister of Care Services to answer.  Interesting that most of the questions revolved around the new devolution of power to the GPs…. there’s much concern about it.

It’s good to see inclusion like this. Did we get the answers we needed?  Well, not exactly, but they were big topics and it would have been churlish to have expected it.  I did come away with copious notes that I took, but I’m not sure there would be a huge advantage in going through them, so I wont bore you with it.

What I came away feeling was that to really make change you have to be out there lobbying for it.  I hate politics, but unless you engage with it I doubt you’ll ever see the changes you want. Cyclically I felt that as an MP it probably didn’t matter which party you were a member of, the key was to be at Westminster, lobbying, networking and pushing for change.  By the time we get to see white papers, policy documents etc the decisions have largely been made so hopefully the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer will be in there lobbying for us.

Now with the lack of clarity around the new Cancer Fund we need lobbying more than ever (a point that was well made at the meeting). The biggest danger we have (which I spoke about before in this blog) is that by pushing the responsibilities to the GPs means that we have de-centralised even more than before and I see a real danger that the appeals process for drugs will become worse not better ……. lets keep up the pressure!

Posted under Andy Thomas

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