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Leading charity Breast Cancer Now today announced that it was launching a staff consultation regarding changes to the way the organisation operates, following detailed analysis projecting almost a 35% drop in its income as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The charity ― which funds a third of all breast cancer research in the UK and provides award-winning information and support services ― called for further financial support for the sector as it said its best estimate was that it would face around a £16m drop in its income over the next year (down to £30 million total income, an estimated 34% reduction) due to the pandemic.
The charity’s analysis involved scenario planning around how and when social distancing measures may change, how the economic environment may be affected and how public attitudes to fundraising may change, to give a best estimate of how its income could be affected.
To mitigate the expected impact, the charity said it was currently looking at what cost-savings it could make in the next financial year, as well as what reductions to its charitable and operational work may be needed to reflect its projected income drop.
As a result, Breast Cancer Now said that it had been forced to take the difficult decision to cancel its next two research grant funding rounds (which would have awarded funding in August and December 2020), and this would potentially see the charity spend at least £2 million less on word-class research in 2020-21.
In addition, Chief Executive, Baroness Delyth Morgan, announced that the charity had launched a consultation with all employees regarding changes to the organisation, and that it was unfortunately expecting to make approximately 60 redundancies across the charity by 31 July 2020 at the end of this process.
The charity will hold both collective consultation and individual consultation processes to ensure that employees are fully informed about and consulted on the proposed changes and their impacts. The charity began the collective consultation process with staff on Monday 8 June 2020.
The charity employs around 300 staff, with a Head Office in London as well as offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Sheffield.
Breast Cancer Now said that, while every element of its work and operations could be affected this year in some way due to the drop in income, the charity remained absolutely committed to providing support for today and hope for the future for anyone affected by breast cancer.
The research and care charity said that at a time when the need for patient support and hope has “never been greater”, many charities were also facing their “greatest threat” to date – not only facing potentially severe impacts to their income but also practically to their ability to deliver life-changing support and progress for their beneficiaries.
Breast Cancer Now has seen a huge surge in enquiries to its online Ask Our Nurses service with questions and concerns about coronavirus, with a 60% increase in March 2020. Since the outbreak began, the charity has received over 2,700 enquiries to its Helpline and Ask Our Nurses service in total, and its patient information about coronavirus has been viewed over 134,000 times.
Following calls to its Helpline and a new survey of over 580 people affected by breast cancer in the UK, Breast Cancer Now warned that thousands of women with secondary breast cancer are experiencing significant fears for their ongoing survival amid delays to treatment, scans and access to trials during the coronavirus outbreak.
The charity’s survey found that a significant number of secondary breast cancer patients were seeing their chemotherapy or targeted therapy changed or paused temporarily to boost their immune systems, leading to periods of weeks or potentially months without treatments that had been helping to keep their disease stable.
The suspension of Breast Cancer Now’s face-to-face support services across the UK until at least the end of August 2020 in line with guidance on social distancing and shielding will see over 130 vital support events and courses be postponed in total, with the charity estimating that over 2,000 women may unfortunately miss out on the support they need during this time.
With most research institutions and workplaces still closed, Breast Cancer Now is currently also less able to carry out the research needed to achieve its 2050 vision: that by 2050, everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live and be supported to live well.
The charity has seen the enforced closure of sites housing key components of its research portfolio, including The Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, its Research Unit focused on triple-negative breast cancer, and long-term projects the Breast Cancer Now Tissue Bank and the Breast Cancer Now Generations Study – with many of the charity’s funded scientists and experts across the UK and Ireland also facing the possibility of months without being able to carry out new experiments.
Despite the challenges facing the sector, Breast Cancer Now said it had already seen some “extremely encouraging” signs in finding new ways to deliver its vital support and information during the outbreak which it hopes will help the charity launch new and tailored services for people affected by breast cancer going forward.
The charity is set to launch two new online support services later this month ― Moving Forward and Living with Secondary Breast Cancer ― with more to follow.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, Chief Executive at Breast Cancer Now, the research and care charity, said:
“It is no longer enough just to describe this situation as unprecedented. We have never seen a time where those affected by breast cancer and their families are in such need of reassurance, support, clear and trusted information, and hope for the future. But at a time where the need for our work has arguably never been greater, we and many other charities are facing our greatest threat to date.
“Over the last few months, we have taken time and great care to try to establish the impact of the outbreak on our income as best we can. With nearly a 35% drop in our income expected next year, we have to make some extremely difficult decisions to ensure we can continue our world-class research and life-changing support services for anyone affected by breast cancer. Ultimately, we need to reduce our costs across our charitable and operational work to reflect our projected income.
“As part of this, we are regrettably proposing that we will need to make a number of posts redundant across the organisation, following a period of consultation with our staff. This is an extremely difficult time ― we greatly value every single one of our brilliant, committed staff and it is with great sadness that these steps need to be considered.
“We also know we will not be alone in the sector in needing to make significant changes to the way we work, and we need the Government to act. Without further financial support from the Government for cancer charities and many other organisations, we are extremely concerned that the impacts on the voluntary sector could be felt for years to come.
“But despite the challenges facing the sector, we also still have great hope. We need to do things differently, and we have already seen some extremely encouraging signs in finding innovative ways to deliver our support services and information for people affected by breast cancer.
“We would like to say a huge thank you to our supporters and our partners for their incredible generosity, loyalty, creativity and encouragement, particularly at what is a really uncertain time for everyone. Whether taking on our virtual Walk 300,000 challenge or signing up to Afternoon Tea, giving to our emergency appeal or volunteering for our Someone Like Me service at a time of great demand, it is making a huge difference to our ability to respond to this crisis.”