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Tessa Jowell receives standing ovation in the House of Lords after touching cancer speech

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26 January 2018

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A full house of Lords gave a minute long standing ovation to Baroness Jowell after she delivered an emotional speech in the House of Lords about her fight with cancer.

Former minister of state for the Department of Health Baroness Tessa Jowell spoke at the House of Lords yesterday to encourage the Government to evaluate innovative cancer treatments and make them available through the NHS.

A full house of Lords gave a minute long standing ovation to Baroness Jowell after she delivered an emotional speech in the House of Lords about her fight with cancer.

Former minister of state for the Department of Health Baroness Tessa Jowell spoke at the House of Lords yesterday to encourage the Government to evaluate innovative cancer treatments and make them available through the NHS.

She said: ‘I am not afraid. So many cancer patients collaborate and support each other every day. All we now ask is that doctors and health systems learn to do the same, and for us to work together, to learn from each other.’

Labour MP Baroness Jowell, who was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) in May 2017, encouraged greater cooperation among doctors in the fight against cancer.

She said: ‘Across the country, GBM strikes fewer than 3,000 people every year. It generally has a very poor prognosis.

‘Less than 2% of cancer research funding is spent on brain tumours, and no new vital drugs have been developed in the last 50 years.’

The Baroness explained how detection of cancers in the UK is too slow, resulting in the UK having the worst survival rate in Western Europe.

A report commissioned by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry found that the UK was spending 20% less of its total health budget on cancer than the rest of the EU, which was impacting survival rates after five years for nine out of 10 cancers.

Responding on behalf of the Government, parliamentary under-secretary in the Department of Health and Social Care Lord James Richard O'Shaughnessy said: ‘Historically, we have lagged behind the best performing countries in Europe, and catching up with those standards has been a focus for successive Governments, including this one.

‘I absolutely agree with her that more investment is needed in cancer research for brain cancer. Making that happen is a specific objective of the departmental working group that has been operating under our Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Chris Whitty.’

Baroness Jowell also encouraged doctors to improve communications and work collaboratively.

To close her speech, she said: 'In the end, what gives a life meaning is not only how it is lived, but how it draws to a close.'

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