Nine NHS Hospital Brain Tumour Centres Awarded Centre OF Excellence Status

Press Release

Published 2nd March 2021

With 12,000 people diagnosed with a brain tumour every year, there has never been a more important time to recognise the work of the teams that have helped patients through their brain tumour journey

02 March 2020: Nine NHS hospital brain tumour centres across the UK have been recognised as a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence following the first round of rigorous expert-led assessments by the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. 

With more than 12,000 people diagnosed every year with a primary brain tumour in the UK, the award has been introduced to recognise hospitals for their excellence in patient care. It represents a step change in the neuro-oncology landscape across the UK. Centres were measured on a range of criteria including excellent clinical practice and training opportunities; emphasis on patient quality of life; providing clinical trials and offering a high standard of research opportunities. Led by a committee of experts in the field and virtual site visits, the assessments were backed up by patient feedback collected by The Brain Tumour Charity about the care they received in these centres. 

Cally Palmer, NHS England National Cancer Director, said: This award is a fitting tribute to Tessa Jowell and her dedication to excellence in cancer care, as well as to all the NHS staff who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to continue to provide life-saving cancer services, and it is great to see NHS hospitals across the country being recognised as centres of excellence.

At least 88,000 British people are currently living with a brain tumour and over 5,000 people a year will lose their lives to it. The “Excellence” status provides reassurance about the availability of excellent care within the NHS and positive recognition for its staff who, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, continue to go above and beyond for their patients. As a result, centres are increasingly adapting to the challenges of Covid-19 and are now offering virtual clinics for their patients. 

Founded to design a new national strategy for brain tumours, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission is committed to helping as many hospitals as possible achieve “Excellence” status in the future. To achieve this, the mission is launching the Tessa Jowell Academy, a national platform allowing hospitals to share best-practice to improve their services, as well as one-year fellowships for doctors to further specialise in brain tumours. It is hoped that with the support of the Academy more centres will qualify for excellence status in the future, extending the reassurance of excellent NHS care more broadly and ensuring no patient is left behind. 

Jess Mills, Co-Founder of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission and Tessa’s daughter, said: “Mum’s mission throughout 50 years of her political life was to tackle systemic inequality. So, it was tragic whilst fitting, that her final campaign was a call to arms to create universal equality in access to excellence in cancer care throughout the NHS. It is with immeasurable pride that just 3 years later, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission has begun the real-world translation of that vision into reality. 

“We are thrilled to have awarded nine centres for their excellent ongoing work for patients and commitment to support other centres in reaching the same level of Excellence. Shockingly, the UK still has one of the worst cancer survival rates in Europe, but in time, the Tessa Jowell Centres will make the UK a global leader in the treatment and care of brain tumour patients. We have a long way to go until the cutting edge of science is delivered to every patient, but this is a huge and transformational first step.”

Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence:

  1.  University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  2. Edinburgh Centre for Neuro-oncology
  3. King’s Health Partners / King’s College Hospital & Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals 
  4. Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust
  5. Salford Royal Foundation Trust and The Christie
  6. Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  7. Nottingham University Hospitals
  8. St George’s University Hospital, Royal Marsden Hospital and Royal Surrey County Hospital
  9. University College Hospital London; the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery

Over £700M is spent on cancer research in the UK every year, yet less than 2% of that is dedicated to brain tumours. The Mission, which will be supported by the All-Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours chaired by Derek Thomas MP, is calling upon further support for NHS centres to enable more of them to achieve “Excellence” status in the future. To kick-start additional monetary support, the Tessa Jowell Foundation, the charity set-up by Tessa’s family to lead the delivery of her legacy, has announced a fundraising appeal to raise £4M to enable the centres to excel after the network is launched.

Professor Richard Gilbertson, Chair of the Mission, highlights:When we put out a call to apply, we received an overwhelming and enthusiastic response from the community. There was a real sense of pride from NHS staff about the service they have been providing and how they strive to provide the very best care for patients, even in the midst of a pandemic. All applying hospitals were working to provide best care and we will be supporting those not yet ready for Centre of Excellence status to enact best practice across all areas. We will use the evidence collected from the applications forms to make a strong case to further equip these centres.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “It is a fitting tribute to Dame Tessa to see nine NHS cancer centres recognised for their outstanding care and treatment for patients with brain cancer. “Throughout the pandemic we have seen how the NHS has adapted to deal with new challenges, and it continues to prioritise and deliver high-quality cancer care. “Building on her legacy fighting hard for better support and research, the Tessa Jowell Academy will provide a strong platform for hospitals across the country to share best practice and continue to improve their services for cancer patients, ensuring anyone can access excellent cancer care.