Breast Cancer Campaign general election briefing About Breast
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Breast Cancer Campaign general election briefing About Breast Cancer Campaign Breast Cancer Campaign’s mission is to beat breast cancer by funding innovative world-class research to understand how breast cancer develops, leading to improved diagnosis, treatment, prevention and cure. We are currently supporting 113 research projects in the UK and Ireland, worth over £15.5 million. What are we calling for? We want candidates running for election to Parliament to support the breast cancer research pledge to: Support the vital research that saves and improves the lives of people with breast cancer Support charity funded medical research by maintaining the Charity Research Support Fund (CRSF) Why is breast cancer research important? While breast cancer research has made considerable progress over the past two decades, resulting in improvements in quality of life and survival rates, breast cancer remains the UK’s most common cancer and the second biggest cause of death from cancer in women. Around 46,000 people are diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year and one woman in nine in the UK will be diagnosed in her lifetime. Research is needed to further improve treatments and survival rates for women affected by breast cancer. What has Breast Cancer Campaign’s research achieved? We have funded 288 projects in the last 13 years. Below is a selection of some of the achievements that research we have funded has obtained: We have found eight genes that are involved in breast cancer so we are now more knowledgeable about how breast cancer develops. With the Royal College of Surgeons, we developed the first specialist training courses for breast surgeons in the UK, resulting in a 42 per cent increase in the number of consultant breast surgeons working in the NHS. We have discovered that the order in which patients receive treatments for breast cancer which has spread drastically affects their ability to kill breast cancer cells. Our findings are now being investigated in clinical trials. We funded a clinical trial studying a new form of radiotherapy for breast cancer called Intensity Modulated Radiotherapy which has already been proven to reduce the cosmetic side effects seen with currently used radiotherapy. We have found ways to make treatments more individualised so that patients receive the treatment best suited to them. How is medical research in the UK funded? Medical research projects in the UK are funded by a combination of charities, pharmaceutical companies, and government through the NHS and Medical Research Council (MRC). Government also supports universities’ research infrastructure through the research councils and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). This is known as the dual-support system where research funders, including research councils and charities, provide grants directly for specific projects and programmes of research within a university or institution. These are known as the direct costs of research. At the same time, the UK’s funding councils (HEFCE and research councils) provide block grants to support the university or institution itself and its research infrastructure as a whole, such as laboratory heating and lighting costs, access to library services, University HR services etc. These are known as the indirect costs of research. Together these two sources of funding cover the full economic costs of the research undertaken. How much do medical charities contribute to medical research? Medical research charities which are members of the Association of Medical Research Charities invested £935 million on medical research in 2008/09, a significant increase on the £644 million invested in 2005/06, the year when the CRSF was first introduced. By comparison, in the Government spent £617 million on medical research through the NHS Research and Development and £792 million through the Medical Research Council in 2008/09. Universities UK estimates that 15 per cent of all university research projects are funded by charities, of which most expenditure is on medical research. What is the CRSF? As a result of a government consultation into making university research sustainable, the Science and Innovation Investment Framework concluded in 2004 that universities needed to know the full costs of the research they undertake and invest appropriately in infrastructure to ensure medium and long term sustainability. The Government then announced that research councils would move towards covering the full economic costs of the research they fund rather than relying on a block grant to cover the infrastructure costs incurred. Extra government funding was provided to research councils to make these extra payments – currently enough for research councils to fund 80 per cent of full economic costs but this is intended to eventually rise to 100 per cent. Charities generally fund only the directly incurred costs of research because their funding relies on the goodwill of the public and they therefore have a duty to ensure that wherever possible their funds are spent directly on research to fulfil their charitable aims. Government recognised that for charity-funded research to be sustainable, charities needed an additional support element of funding to cover the full economic costs, by establishing the Charity Support Research Fund (CRSF). Further detail on how research costs are defined can be found below. Why is the CRSF important? Funding for charity research relies on the goodwill of the public. Charities therefore have a duty to ensure that funds are spent, wherever possible, directly on research. The CRSF allows them to do this. The CRSF also provides a partnership between charities and the Government, enabling vital world class research to take place that ultimately benefits patients, and ensures charity funding is used to its greatest effect. Without the CRSF, there will be serious repercussions on the ability of charities to fund medical research. How does the CRSF operate? The CRSF is distributed by HEFCE. Equivalent funds operate in Scotland (administered by the Scottish Funding Council), Wales (HEFCW) and Northern Ireland (Department for Employment and Learning). When the CRSF was introduced, the government was explicit about the type of charitable research in universities that should qualify for underpinning support from public funding, and the following principles are used: Research should demonstrably contribute to the enhancement of the research base or in some other way provide a public scientific good The charity should have a published research strategy Research supported should only be of the highest quality, and funders should demonstrate that they have appraisal systems in place which ensure that only high quality research is funded How much is invested in the CRSF? When the CRSF first began in 2006/07, £135.5 million was initially made available. The government announced that the fund would eventually rise to around £270 million by 2011 to take account of the increasing amount of funds invested by charities in medical research. The fund has in fact risen to £193.6 million by 2009/10. It is unlikely that the planned increase to £270 million will now take place. It is vital, however, that the fund is maintained to support charity medical research. How are the funding levels for the CRSF set? Every year the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills writes to HEFCE’s board setting out the grant which will be made from the Department to HEFCE to support teaching and research in universities in England. Within these funds is a funding stream which is to fund the infrastructure costs of research, known as the QR grant (quality related grant). HEFCE’s board then has discretion to set the level available for charity research support funding from the QR grant, whilst taking account of any policy leads from government, if made. This decision is usually made in late January or early February. How is the CRSF allocated to each University? The CRSF is allocated on a retrospective basis, with the CRSF being distributed between qualifying universities in proportion to the amount of eligible income from charities reported by universities in the Research Activity Survey for the previous year to which the grant is made. How does charity funding qualify for consideration in the allocation of the CRSF to Universities? HEFCE has 3 eligibility criteria: 1. Research income which is awarded through open competition, excellence and priority using a method of external peer review 2. Research income which is awarded by a charity registered in the UK or an overseas body with exclusively charitable purposes 3. In any one year, only the first £500,000 of the annual release from the deferred capital grant account of each capital grant is eligible How are the different types of research costs defined? The Full Economic Costs (FEC) of individual projects is calculated through an accounting methodology known as TRAC (Transparent Approach to Costing). From this, FEC is comprised of: Directly Incurred Costs – actual costs that are explicitly identifiable as arising from the conduct of a specific project (for example, staff salaries, equipment, materials, travel). Directly Allocated Costs – costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities and based on estimates (for example, principal and co-investigator costs, estates costs). Indirect Costs – non-specific costs charged across all projects that are based on estimates (for example, HR and finance services, library costs). Further info See Breast Cancer Campaign’s Full Economic Costing Report which looked at issues to do with the CRSF. Please visit http://www.breastcancercampaign.org/whatwedo/campaigns/ for more information.