Influencing Politicians and Government Policy

The work of our Policy team is the backbone of our influencing and campaigning activity. We work across many different issues that affect people with, or at risk of developing, breast cancer.

This work forms the basis of our flagship campaigns and directs the conversations we have with politicians and other policymakers. In the lead up to the 2015 General Election, thanks to our supporters, our Stop Women Dying campaign recruited 860 parliamentary candidates to become Breast Cancer Ambassadors in Parliament, 143 of which have now been elected as MPs. We're looking forward to working with this group of newly elected MPs to see more action taken so we can overcome this disease sooner.

Improving breast cancer services

We work closely with our Health Advocacy team - who work on the ‘front-line’ with NHS hospitals to help them improve breast cancer services - to identify issues that are affecting patients and their families and carers.

We use this knowledge to influence national policy to improve the care and experience of breast cancer patients. We also monitor and assess the impact of changes to the NHS on breast cancer patients, and act wherever we can to mitigate any negative effects by influencing Ministers in the Department of Health and working closely with the various health bodies in the UK.

Ensuring access to treatments

The significant amount of money we invest as a charity in research to find new treatments for breast cancer would be wasted if we didn’t also ensure that the treatments were able to be used once they are developed.

A lot of our work focuses on improving access to treatments to make sure that patients are benefiting from the latest research – whether that is tackling unnecessary bureaucracy that slows down or restricts access, or working in coalition with other charities, industry, government and the NHS to reform the drug appraisal process.

Supporting researchers to excel

As a major funder of medical research in the UK, we gain extremely useful insight into the needs of the researchers and research centres that we fund. We put this knowledge to best effect by influencing government policy on scientific research to ensure that researchers are working in the most supportive environment possible for them to excel.

This includes making sure that laws and regulations governing scientific research are allowing researchers to work at an optimum level, and securing government funding commitments for scientific research and infrastructure.

Much of the research we fund takes place within universities and so we also work to ensure that the Higher Education environment is adequately resourced and supportive of research.

Prevention

Through our membership on the Richmond Group of Charities , we also work closely with other health charities with the aim of improving services for patients with a range of health conditions. The group is working together as a collective voice to better influence health and social care policy, with the aim of improving the care and support for the 17 million patients we collectively represent.

In November 2014 The Richmond Group published a new report - What is preventing progress? - which warned that the UK will fail to meet international commitments on reducing deaths from preventable diseases unless it prioritises the prevention of ill health.

It makes the case that local and national government, the NHS, public services, the private sector, charities and patients must all work together to put prevention first. We are now working in coalition to make sure that progress is made on this front.

Find out more about how to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

Family history

We have a long history of working to ensure that women with a family history of breast cancer have access to the most up-to-date and effective treatment options.

In 2013 we chaired the Guideline Development Group for NICE’s Familial breast cancer guideline update and we continue to push for implementation of the guideline across England.

We are also involved in local projects that research and implement services for women at increased risk of breast cancer due to their family history, and provide policy support for our family history services guide.

Supporting the wider charity

We also work across the charity to make sure that the UK (and European) legal framework does not adversely impact on our ability to meet our charitable objectives. For instance, we are working closely with the Treasury and HMRC to ensure that the amount that charities can claim via Gift Aid is maximized.

We are also working with others across the medical research sector to ensure that European laws on data protection do not stop our Tissue Bank from being able to use patients’ tissue donations for research.

Collaborative working

Members of the policy team also sit on various external committees and groups to ensure that the voices of breast cancer patients are heard at all levels of the NHS and Government.

We act as patient representatives on the Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer Screening, the Breast Cancer Clinical Reference Group and the Cancer Drugs Fund Panel, to name just a few.

For more information

For more information, please get in touch with our policy team at policy@breastcancernow.org