West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has signed a cross-party letter calling on the Treasury to establish a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, a scheme designed to support medical research charities who are suffering from a severe reduction in income as a result of COVID-19.  

The letter, co-ordinated by SNP Health Spokesperson and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Neale Hanvey MP and Children with Cancer UK, highlights how without Government support, the short-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in long-term consequences for the future of medical research and development and the urgent need for financial support.  

Parliamentarians are asking the UK Government to provide at least £310 million of funding in the financial year of 2020/21 to a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund, a proposal put forward by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), who are the membership organisation of leading medical and health research charities in the UK. The AMRC is predicting an overall reduction in UK medical research investment of £252–£368 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The establishment of such a fund would secure medical research charities for the next three years and preserve research charities’ vital and unique contributions to the UK’s society and economy.  

Children with Cancer UK, the leading national charity dedicated to research into childhood cancer, has warned that it is facing an income loss of around 40 percent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The charity is warning that without further support, much of its planned medical research will be cancelled, setting back cancer research and the discovery of better, kinder treatments by many years.  

The letter was signed by a range of SNP, Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative MPs and Peers including Labour MPs Rosie, Cooper, Tony Lloyd and Andrew Gywnne, the SNP Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Dr Phillipa Whitford, Liberal Democrat Women and Equalities Spokesperson Wera Hobhouse, and Conservative Peers Baroness Altman and Lord Balfe.  

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper commented:
“Every day across the UK, twelve families get the heart-breaking news that their child has cancer. I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.  

“The statistics are simply shocking. Around 4,500 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer each year and cancer is still the most common cause of death in under-15s in the UK.  

“That’s why I’m calling on the UK Government to set up a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund so that life-saving research and development can continue in the battle against childhood cancer.  

This fund would help to ensure the quality of life of survivors continues to improve.”  

Dr Jasmine Parkinson, Children with Cancer UK’s Research and Grants Manager, added: “Children with Cancer UK is currently facing a funding gap of between £4–5 million as a result of COVID-19. This decline in funds will severely impact the amount that charities such as ours can pledge towards the funding of potentially lifesaving medical research projects.   

“Since our formation the research we have helped fund has led to an increase in childhood cancer survival rates and the discovery of more effective cancer treatments with fewer side effects. Sadly, without further support future developments are at risk.” 

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