The Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Leeds Brain Tumour Centre awarded Centre of Excellence status

2 March 2021

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s (LTHT) brain tumour centre has been recognised as a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence following 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[i], and 150 new patients seeking treatment at LTHT, 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. LTHT in Leeds was measured on a range of criteria, including its 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 about the care they received. It is one of nine hospitals across the UK to receive the recognition.

At least 88,000 British people are currently living with a brain tumour but over 5,000 people a year will lose their lives to it[ii]. The “Excellence” status provides reassurance about the availability of excellent care within the NHS and positive recognition for its staff at LTHT who, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, continue to go above and beyond for their patients. Due to the strain Covid-19 has placed on the NHS, LTHT brain tumour centre now offers virtual clinics for 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 the “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.

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 LTHT for its 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.”

Professor Susan Short, Clinical Oncologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals, said: “We are immensely proud of the excellent care delivered by the whole neuro oncology team in Leeds and very pleased to be able to contribute to a national effort to improve the experience of all brain tumour patients through designation as a Tessa Jowell Centre of Excellence”.

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.

“NHS services are open and ready to help those who need cancer care, and I encourage anyone who is experiencing any worrying symptoms to contact their GP immediately to improve chances of a successful recovery.”

Tessa Jowell Centres of Excellence:

  1. University Hospitals Birmingham
  2. Edinburgh Centre for Neuro-oncology
  3. King's Health Partners of King's College Hospital & Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals in London
  4. Leeds teaching hospitals NHS Trust (Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital)
  5. Salford Royal Foundation Trust and The Christie (Manchester)
  6. Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  7. Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust
  8. St George’s University Hospital, Royal Marsden Hospital and Royal Surrey County Hospital
  9. University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Over £700M is spent on cancer research in the UK every year, yet less than 2% of that is dedicated to brain tumours[iii]. The Mission, which will be supported by the All-Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours chaired by Derek Thomas MP, to secure further support for NHS centres to enable more of them to achieve the “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.

[i] Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/brain-other-cns-and-intracranial-tumours (Data: 2015-2017, UK)

[ii] Cancer Research UK, https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/health-professional/cancer-statistics/statistics-by-cancer-type/brain-other-cns-and-intracranial-tumours#heading-Zero (Data: 2015–2017, UK). Accessed October 2020.

[iii] National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Research Database Data Package 2019