Armstrong Backs Call For National Brain Tumour Strategy

Kellie Armstrong Alliance MLA for Strangford supports the 50,000 calling for a National Brain Tumour Strategy

This week Kellie Armstrong MLA handed in a cross-party letter to Health Minister Robin Swann MLA in support of The Brain Tumour Charity’s call for a National Brain Tumour Strategy.

In late February, The Brain Tumour Charity launched an open letter addressed to all four UK Health Ministers.

In just over three weeks of going live online, the letter had exceeded its target of obtaining 40,000 signatures – and had reached more than 52,000 before it closed on April 15th.

The letter points out that brain tumours remain the biggest cancer killer of those under 40.

Despite this, there have been few clinical breakthroughs compared to other diseases with treatment options still mostly limited to surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

It says that for years, people diagnosed with a brain tumour have been falling through the cracks.

This can range from multiple mis-diagnoses and trips to GPs, where the Charity’s Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys indicates that 41% of respondents said they visited their GP three or more times before getting a diagnosis.

Or it can lead to patients not having access to the support they are entitled to from an allocated Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). 

Evidence provided by the Charity, indicates that there are issues along the entire pathway that need to be solved – including in the areas of diagnosis, care, treatment and research.

According to The Brain Tumour Charity, this can only be tackled through systematic change and a comprehensive National Brain Tumour Strategy that covers the whole patient pathway.

Strangford MLA Kellie Armstrong has signed the cross-party letter addressed to Health Minister, Robin Swann.

Sharing her reasoning for signing the letter, Kellie said: “It is vital that the Northern Ireland executive, as well as governments across the UK, make sure that people who have brain tumours receive the care they need.

“This care must be from a speedy diagnosis, to having access to the most modern treatment options.

“Brain tumours are a complex disease but those affected have been left behind for too long. This has to change.

“There now needs to be a decisive strategy which will lead to the systemic change that is required to tackle this devastating disease.

“For me it was a ‘no brainer’ to have signed the letter to the Minister and I now urge him to listen and work with the brain tumour community in the creation of an effective strategy.”

Cameron Miller, Director of External Affairs & Strategy at The Brain Tumour Charity said: “It is inspiring to see the level of support we have received across the political spectrum for the call for a National Brain Tumour Strategy.

“We thank every politician for joining the brain tumour community in this call and on the journey to improving brain tumour care for all.

“We all want to see a step change in the way brain tumours are tackled so that they are no longer placed on the ‘too difficult’ pile because of their complexity. A Strategy would address the challenges people currently face across the whole patient pathway.”

The strategy would require all nations of the UK to work together to tackle problems affecting diagnosis, care, treatment and research with separate implementation plans then being developed within each nation.

The Brain Tumour Charity is the UK’s largest dedicated brain tumour charity.

It funds pioneering research to increase survival and improve treatment options as well as raising awareness of the symptoms and effects of brain tumours to bring about earlier diagnosis. 

The Charity also provides support for everyone affected so that they can live as full a life as possible, with the best quality of life.

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