Six NHS Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Centres Newly Designated as ‘Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence’

Press Release

Published 25th April 2024



Each year, around 420 children are diagnosed with a brain tumour in the UK (1). After a detailed review process across the UK, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission (TJBCM) proudly announces a new network of 15 brain tumour centres for children, of which six have been designated as excellent.

Dr Stephen Lowis, who led the review process, said “In every team in every city, we found remarkable examples of exceptional and compassionate care. This initiative will support all centres across the UK to develop their services, through national collaboration and sharing of examples of excellence.

The launch of this brand-new initiative marks the first stage in a national effort to further elevate the treatment, care and research for children with brain tumours.  For families and young patients, this recognition will provide confidence in the services delivered by centres in the network. The Mission found remarkable examples in every centre of NHS staff working well beyond what was asked for, to deliver excellent care for their patients.



The nationwide review process further provides an in-depth understanding of children’s brain tumour care and research in almost every centre across the UK. Funded and supported by the NIHR and the Mission’s partner charities, the TJBCM will use these findings to launch new programmes aimed at further elevating services across the country.

Richard Gilbertson, TJBCM Chair and Head of Department of Oncology and CRUK Centre Director University of Cambridge, said “This initiative has received an overwhelming and enthusiastic response from the paediatric neuro-oncology community. Together, we are working to ensure all children with a brain tumour receive the very best care, wherever they live.”



Six distinguished centres were awarded the coveted Centre of Excellence status, having met the high Standards of Excellence across all 168 areas along their patient pathway. Areas assessed include clinical care, quality of life care and access to clinical trials. Special attention was paid to play therapy and education provision, key elements of children’s cancer care.

The new Centres of Excellence are:

Staff will receive the awards during a ceremony at the Science Gallery London on June 6th.



Jess Mills, Tessa Jowell’s daughter and TJBCM Co-Founder, proudly said “Mum’s legacy to transform outcomes for brain cancer patients across the UK has reached another huge milestone. It has been so moving to witness how committed the teams caring for children in hospitals are to come on this journey with us.”

Dr Nicky Huskens, CEO of the TJBCM, said “The outcome of this rigorous process has been re-assuring. Every centre that participated provides good care, with six providing exceptional care. Going forward we will be working with our partners in the charity, public and corporate sectors to provide bespoke centre support and launch new meaningful national initiatives to improve brain tumour treatment and care.”

Dr Caroline Dalton, NIHR Cancer Portfolio Lead, said: “The NIHR is proud to have contributed to this initiative through its funding to the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission. This new network of Centres of Excellence for Children will improve research opportunities for brain cancer patients across the country, as well as ensuring they receive the best possible treatment and care.”

Louise Shepherd CBE, Chair of NHS England’s National Children and Young People’s Board, said: “It is fantastic to see NHS hospitals across England being recognised as centres of excellence. These awards are a fitting tribute to Tessa Jowell and her dedication to excellence in cancer care, as well as to the NHS staff who work tirelessly to provide the best treatment and support to the children and their families. The NHS is committed to diagnosing and treating cancers as early as possible to give people the best chance of beating the disease, and I encourage anyone who is experiencing any worrying symptoms to contact their GP immediately – getting checked can help save lives.”

Health Minister Andrew Stephenson said, “A child’s cancer diagnosis is devastating news for any family to process. This new network of brain tumour centres for children will offer world-leading care, from diagnosis through to treatment. We want to improve outcomes for all brain cancer patients, which is why we have provided £40million for research to help save lives across the country.”

With thanks to our partner organisations for their continued support of the Mission’s work.

To learn more about the paediatric programme, please click here.



Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence for Children Initiative FAQs

What is the Mission’s vision?


Which centres are in the Tessa Jowell Network?


What is the Tessa Jowell Network?

All teams which engaged in this process are now part of the Tessa Jowell Network of children’s brain tumour centres. A Tessa Jowell Network centre is recognised for delivering safe and good quality treatment in adherence with the speciality protocols; the surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are safe and effective and in adherence with speciality standards. Each network centre demonstrates impressive pockets of excellence and offers several opportunities to participate in clinical trials.


What is a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence?

A Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence has met the high Standards of Excellence in every area of their service. These centres demonstrate outstanding multi-disciplinary collaboration to deliver care, with exceptionally integrated and specialised services. They provide excellent research opportunities across specialities and remarkable nurse-led care.


How was excellence determined?

In 2023, all UK paediatric neuro-oncology centres were invited to apply to be assessed against the Tessa Jowell Standards of Excellence. The Standards of Excellence were supported by an extensive Evidence Base produced by leading experts in the field. Fifteen out of 17 centres participated in a review of their entire paediatric neuro-oncology services. They were assessed on 168 different areas along the patient pathway, from diagnosis to end-of-life, to uncover challenges, variations and vitally outstanding areas of excellence and innovation. Special attention was paid to play therapy and education provision, key elements of children’s cancer care. 


What was assessed at each centre?

Service areas reviewed covered: 


Would a child have better outcomes in a Centre of Excellence?

According to academic studies, survival outcomes remain the same across the UK with no evidence to warrant transitions between centres. Parents can be reassured that every child receives comprehensive holistic care by a compassionate team, tailored to their needs.


How will the TJBCM support centres going forward?

The data collected during this review process will be used by the Mission to connect centres with outstanding national infrastructure, including the Cancer Research UK Children’s Brain Tumour Centre of Excellence, as well as design new initiatives and infrastructure to help address identified areas of challenge, supporting the efforts of individual centres. Through the Tessa Jowell Academy, training, networking and peer support for NHS health professionals working with children with brain tumours will be provided. Guidance will be provided to charities and governing bodies as to where to allocate funding to have the greatest impact on improving the delivery of better and more holistic patient care. These next steps for the programme will support the entire UK paediatric neuro-oncology community, accelerating improvements and ensuring excellence becomes the standard for every child diagnosed with a brain tumour.


About the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission

The TJBCM is a national convening body, with over 13 member organisations, delivering transformative programmes to improve brain tumour research, treatment and care in the UK. It designs and delivers eight innovative programmes focused on: accelerating research, advancing precision medicine, improving care for patients and connecting and training NHS staff. Its work is funded and supported by the government through the National Institute of Health Research, as well as eight different cancer charities. Over 90 NHS doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and scientists from across the UK work daily with the Mission to design and deliver its programmes, which are jointly delivered with its partner organisations. Find out more here



(1) CRUK. Cancer Research UK. [Online].; 2022 [cited 2024 03 18]. Available from: