Nicola invited the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt MP, to visit the John Radcliffe Children’s Cancer Ward, to meet the world class medics working on the ward and their brave patients. They also met with the parents of Skye Hall, a five year old boy from Abingdon who died last year having been diagnosed with a brain tumour, and whose case Nicola recently raised in Parliament (to read more on this, follow this link: http://www.nicolablackwood.com/?p=7446
The Halls were able to talk through Skye’s awful case with the Secretary of State, and Nicola has promised to keep this dialogue with the Government, the hospital, and key research bodies, continuing.
Nicola and the Minister then met with Dr Tony Berendt (OUH’s Medical Director), Dr Kate Wheeler (Clinical Lead in Paediatric Oncology), Tony McDonald (General Manager of Children’s and Women’s Services) Professor Mark Middleton (Trust-wide Cancer Lead) and Becky Hester (Senior Nurse on Kamran’s Ward) to tour the ward and meet some of the outpatients and inpatients. This was a hugely productive visit; giving the Minister the chance to hear directly from staff and patients on the ward.
As we know, children’s cancers are very biologically different from cancers in adults, and Nicola has been raising her concern in Parliament that research into childhood cancers is limited because of the relatively small numbers of cases. She will continue to keep up the pressure on this, and looks forward to hearing more from the Department of Health and the John Radcliffe following Skye’s death.
Nicola says: Here in Oxfordshire, including here at the John Radcliffe, we are lucky to have first class research facilities and world-leading experts doing vital work on ground-breaking medicines, earlier diagnosis and ways to prevent the often life-long consequences of cancer treatments. This is the life-saving research that we must fund but also enable by simplifying unnecessary bureaucratic barriers if we are to prevent, control and cure this devastating disease.
During the Minister’s visit, frontline specialists, patients and their families were able to tell the Health Secretary directly how much we value our local cancer services, what could improve them and also to discuss how lessons from Skye’s case can help other children suffering with cancer.