Stem cell transplantation is a life-saving treatment, and many people will be deeply disappointed by NHS England’s decision to stop routine commissioning of second stem cell transplants for patients who have relapsed.
I am a strong supporter of the Anthony Nolan Trust and know that it does excellent work in encouraging people to register as donors. I sympathise profoundly with anyone affected by blood cancer. Both Anthony Nolan and the Lymphoma Association have criticised the NHS England decision and I know that Anthony Nolan has recently delivered an open letter with 18,000 signatures to the Health Secretary, calling on him to urge NHS England to reconsider its decision.
I hope that the government will listen carefully to the concerns that have been raised by charities, health professionals, patients, and the wider public when considering what steps to take.
Anthony Nolan and NHS Stem Cell Registry has given thousands of people the opportunity to have a transplant where they previously may not have been able to be matched with a donor. I support Anthony Nolan’s efforts in trying to expand the register of potential donors, especially amongst younger people, and people from BAME backgrounds, who are particularly underrepresented on the current donor register.
I also believe we need to do more to encourage medical research and new treatments, as this is vital to improving patient care and outcomes. Britain has been spending less on research generally as a share of GDP than France, Germany, the US and China, all of whom are increasing their commitment to science and technology. I believe we need a long term plan for research and development spending.
I will continue to press the government to improve treatment and support for people with blood cancer and to ensure cancer remains at the top of the political agenda.
You can find out how to register as a donor here: www.anthonynolan.org