Emily Waller

Pancreatic Cancer and Parliament

Emily from our Policy and Campaigns team blogs about the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pancreatic Cancer.

Emily Waller
25 September 2020

On the 11th September we hosted the first All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Pancreatic Cancer of this parliamentary term. A big day for pancreatic cancer in Parliament!

We brought together MPs and Peers from across parties to discuss pancreatic cancer, the impact of the pandemic, and how we can work together to ensure we are doing all we can to improve outcomes for people facing this cruel disease.

For those less familiar with the confusing world of Westminster, APPGs are special interest clubs and societies for MPs. There are literally hundreds of them, covering every topic you could think of – from Angling, to Beer, to Zoos and everything in between! Lots of health conditions have an APPG too, and we are proud to provide the Secretariat for (AKA, organise the meetings of) the one for pancreatic cancer.

These meetings are a great opportunity to bring together parliamentarians from all political parties, united by the common goal of improving diagnosis, treatment, research and outcomes for people with pancreatic cancer. Some of the MPs, and Peers (those who sit in the House of Lords), who make up our members have personal experience of pancreatic cancer themselves, or know someone who has been. For example, our newly elected Chair, Jim Shannon MP, spoke movingly in his opening address about the death of his former constituent from the illness.

At this inaugural meeting, we elected our new committee – made up of an engaged group of MPs and Peers who will be our key allies in the fight against pancreatic cancer for this parliamentary term. As well as Jim, we appointed another five people to the committee:  Colleen Fletcher MP, Sir George Howarth MP, Henry Smith MP, Lord Porter of Spalding and Lord Aberdare. We were fortunate to then hear updates from three expert speakers on what the impact of the pandemic has been on pancreatic cancer treatment and care: namely, the CEOs of three charities in the sector (Pancreatic Cancer Action, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, and of course us!).

MPs and Peers have so many meetings in a day that they are constantly being bombarded with new information. Having an hour to focus on pancreatic cancer at the APPG means that we can ensure our elected reps understand what the key issues are, and how they can use the power they have to drive improvements – both locally and nationally. It’s also a great opportunity for us to learn from them about what the key opportunities are for influencing in Parliament, and what they think will grab the attention of other politicians to make sure as many people as possible know and care about pancreatic cancer.

We’ve not let the pandemic stop us, and have got some exciting work in the pipeline for the APPG this year. Right now, we’re deciding what topic would be best for an inquiry we’re planning – should we focus on the pandemic, and what we can learn from the impact this has had on pancreatic cancer treatment and care? Or perhaps on new innovations, like precision medicine? We’ll be holding more conversations with our shiny new committee soon to decide what will have the greatest impact for people affected by pancreatic cancer – so watch this space!