On the 8th of July 2021, the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission hosted the Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence Awards Ceremony to congratulate and thank the incredible teams of the first nine designated centres of excellence for their passion, hard work and commitment to excellence in the care and treatment of brain tumour patients.
The ceremony, held at the Royal College of Physicians and live streamed via the TJBCM website, was attended by various members of the brain tumour community; from patients and representatives of patient charities, clinicians from the designated hospitals and key stakeholders of the mission to senior government and NHS officials.
Professor Richard Gilbertson, Chair of TJBCM, opened the ceremony by welcoming all those joining the evening to celebrate this momentous occasion. He highlighted that the ceremony was not only a celebration of the nine designated centres but also an opportunity to reflect on the three years since the inception of the mission and its future ambitions.
Centres were invited to join Professor Katie Bushby and Jess Mills, designation programme lead and Tessa’s daughter respectively, on stage to accept their awards. Each centre was commended for their unique strengths and were given the opportunity to speak upon receiving their awards. The awardees stirred the audience by generously thanking the different members of their teams, truly demonstrating the multidisciplinarity involved in brain tumour treatment and care, in addition to thanking their patients and their families.
Dr. Robin Grant, Consultant Neurologist at Edinburgh Centre for Neuro-oncology “I would like to highlight a group in particular – these are the neuro-oncology clinical nurse specialists, the epilepsy clinical nurse specialists, the clinical trials research nurses and the outpatient nurses, as they are often the unsung heroes and they set the tone for the culture of kindness and compassion when the patients attend the clinic.”
True to Tessa Jowell’s spirit, the ceremony instilled a sense of hope and positivity in the attendees despite the many challenges faced by brain tumour clinicians in treating patients and the difficult year which saw services significantly affected by the pandemic.
Tim Jones, Consultant Neurosurgeon at St George’s University Hospital – : “it is so nice to be involved in a positive thing for glioblastoma, for the first time in a long time. It has always been thought of as the booby prize of medicine; but actually, we are really feeling like we are doing something that’s fantastic and will have a long-lasting legacy.”
Dr. Catherine McBain, Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Christie – “The reality is that our clinics are full of young mums, young dads, husbands, wives, grandparents and children with survival rates that are not what any of us in this room would like to see […] You’ve given us as practitioners dealing with this day on day a real boost as well […] For all of us, this is just a phenomenal unifying thing and we look forward to working with you because we know this is just the beginning.”
Following the acceptance of the awards, TJBCM Director Nicky Huskens presented on the future ambitions of the mission, in particular the Tessa Jowell Academy – a network of knowledge and best practice sharing dedicated to promoting excellence in brain tumour treatment and care in the NHS. Through membership of the Academy, centres will be able to share their areas of expertise, develop their services by learning from exemplar practices and collaborate on new initiatives to further improve clinical and patient care.
The keynote speech was delivered by Lord Bethell, Undersecretary of Health, who commended the teams for their incredible focus on patient quality of life, their admirable attitudes in being open to feedback and comments, opening their books to be scrutinised and responding with incredible enthusiasm to continuing to develop and strive for more. He reiterated the government’s commitment to the mission, ensuring an open line of communication and constructive relationships between all the centres and the Department of Health and Social Care.
Lord Bethell, Under Secretary of Health – “Everyone rightly recognises the importance the designation represents as another step in rising to the challenge set by Tessa and the families of those who have lost a loved one to brain cancer. This has only been possible due to the collective effort of the entirety of the Tessa Jowell Brain Cancer Mission, the patients and the NHS [..] we must keep striving and rising to the challenge she and those families have set us and we must never waver or tire in our determination to improve the health and lives of the nation. This designation is a critically important step in achieving this.”