As well as funding research into pancreatic cancer, providing information about the disease and running the only UK-wide, pancreatic cancer dedicated Support Line staffed by specialist nurses, Pancreatic Cancer UK also campaigns to bring about policy changes to improve patient care and outcomes. So we work with policy makers and key individuals within the NHS and also directly lobby politicians across the whole of the UK.
Since health provision is devolved, this means engaging politicians and officials in the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales and the Northern Ireland Assembly, as well as with Members of Parliament in the House of Commons at Westminster.
Over the past 18 months we have travelled the country to make MPs, MSPs, AMs and MLAs aware of pancreatic cancer and the need to do more to change the current dreadful survival rates.
Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (PCAM) gives us a major opportunity to engage more closely with politicians. As such we have organised events in each of the UK’s parliaments and assemblies over the course of PCAM. Here is a summary of what is going on.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 27th October) we will be holding a ‘drop-in’ day for MPs in Parliament’s Jubilee Room, which has been kindly sponsored for us by Stuart Andrew MP, Nic Dakin MP (who is also chair of the APPG on pancreatic cancer), and Paul Scully MP. We will be there for 6 hours, during which time MPs can pop in to learn more about pancreatic cancer and the major issues that need addressing; from the need for earlier diagnosis to more research funding, and making sure patients have access to new treatments like Abraxane. Given that, as things stand, Abraxane is due to be removed from the CDF on 4th November we will be making this particular point very strongly.
We will also be giving the MPs a photo opportunity ahead of PCAM and our Purple Lights for Hope campaign – the more MPs that then share their photos on social and local media the more people we can make aware of pancreatic cancer across the UK.
Northern Ireland Assembly:
On Monday 2nd November we will be holding a small reception in Stormont, sponsored by Jo-Anne Dobson MLA. This will allow MLAs to drop in and meet with patients, carers, clinicians working with the disease and other charity representatives to learn about their first-hand experiences of pancreatic cancer. This event follows our recent launch of our Diagnosis Manifesto for Northern Ireland and the recent conversations we had with a number of MLAs about this and other issues back in September.
National Assembly for Wales:
Tuesday 3rd November takes us to Cardiff where we have a lunchtime reception in the Assembly’s Senedd Building, which has been sponsored by Lynne Neagle AM. We hope that a number of AMs will drop in for a chat with us and, again, patients, carers, healthcare professionals and others from across Wales. This trip builds on our visit to the Assembly back in June when we met with AMs and Department of Health officials.
Finally, on 17th November, we have an evening reception in the Scottish Parliament, sponsored by Clare Adamson MSP. The event is being held jointly with Pancreatic Cancer Scotland.
We were at the Scottish Parliament back in February, where we met and spoke to nearly 40 MSPs over the course of two days. By what will be a familiar format by 17th, MSPs will be able to speak with guests to learn about their personal experiences in dealing with pancreatic cancer.
We hope all these events will boost political awareness of pancreatic cancer and, ultimately make it easier to bring about the improvements in pancreatic cancer awareness, diagnosis, treatment, care and research that we so badly need to see.