Parliamentary Asbestos Seminar 2016
An extraordinary meeting of MPs and invited guests took place yesterday (March 22, 2016) in the House of Commons under the auspices of the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group. The original objective of the two-hour event was to showcase the cutting edge work of UK mesothelioma researchers and call for a coordinated and long-term government strategy to find new treatments and a cure for a cancer killing thousands of people every year.
The agenda for the meeting which had been planned earlier in the year was changed this week to reflect the March 16, 2016 announcement in the Budget that the government would provide the sum of £5 million to establish a National Mesothelioma Centre of Excellence (see: final Seminar Agenda). While this news was greeted enthusiastically by patients and members of the mesothelioma research community, there were few details available about how the money would be allocated. From comments by Lord Alton, it was believed that the £5m had been earmarked for Imperial College at the suggestion of Imperial Colleges Professor Sir Anthony Newman Taylor CBE. According to Lord Altons blog, Newman Taylor had urged the government to release LIBOR funds1 to:
help fund a national mesothelioma research centre, which Imperial wishes to create with the National Heart and Lung Institute, the Royal Brompton Hospital, the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden Hospital.2
To learn more about the governments decision, on March 21st Ian Jarrold from the British Lung Foundation (BLF) and Professor William Cookson from Imperial College were invited to address the seminar.3 While the BLF spokesman acknowledged that his organization, like the others represented in the chamber, had been left out of the loop, Professor Cookson indicated that the money would indeed be coming to Imperial. Having expressed his unfamiliarity with the people attending the seminar and the speakers making presentations, the Professor appeared bemused by questions about the validity of this money being given to Imperial without consultation with stakeholding groups such as the Parliamentary Asbestos Sub-Group, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, Mesothelioma UK and others. Calls for discussions with politicians, civil servants and researchers over the final location for the National Mesothelioma Centre of Excellence were unanimously supported by those in attendance.
A full report of the content of the presentations and discussions is under preparation. For now, we are uploading a series of photographs from the day.
Trevor Barlow, mesothelioma patient, who spoke about Living with Mesothelioma.
Mavis Nye, mesothelioma warrior. The title of her presentation was A Patients Perspective on Mesothelioma Treatment.
Graham Dring, Chair of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum, one of the key organizers of this event.
John Flanagan, Merseyside Asbestos Victim Support Group, making an intervention from the floor.
Kate Hill, from the University of Leeds. Her presentation was entitled Funding and Strategies for UK Mesothelioma Research: Where Now?
Professor Bill Cookson, Head of Respiratory Sciences, Imperial College.
Members of the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum prior to the commencement of the seminar.
March 23, 2016
1 LIBOR funds were financial penalties imposed by the government on banks to punish them for fraudulent actions connected to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR).
2 Chancellors welcome Budget response on mesothelioma research centre. March, 2016.
3 Budget 2016. March 16, 2016.