Theresa May today dodged an invitation to meet with a former Labour Cabinet Minister suffering with a brain tumour to discuss improving cancer treatment.
Baroness Tessa Jowell was diagnosed with brain cancer in May 2017, and today called for patients to be allowed to opt for innovative treatments in other countries.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this afternoon, May was asked by Labour MP Sarah Jones if she would meet with the former Culture Secretary to hear her concerns directly.
The Prime Minister responded that all MPs were “saddened” to her of Jowell’s brain cancer, but “encouraged by the positive approach she is taking.”
May added: “We do want to make sure the best treatments are being provided and we will consider investing in anything that improves that.
“We’ve accepted 96 recommendations in the NHS Cancer Strategy, of course we do need constantly to look at this.
“My Right Hon Friend the Health Secretary will be happy to meet with the Hon Lady and Baroness Jowell.”
As it became clear May was not planning to meet with Jowell herself, Labour MPs began shouting “Just say yes!” in an attempt to get her to agree.
Labour MP Chris Bryant took to Twitter to call May’s decision a “mystery”.
Fellow Labour MP Mike Gapes also queried the response.
In an interview with the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Jowell explained she was travelling to Germany for treatment as the NHS is no longer able to offer anything to tackle her high-grade brain tumour - known as glioblastoma
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “I tell you something? I am absolutely 100% trying to stay alive. That is exactly the kind of risk that patients should be free to take. It should be a risk that they have the chance to take and it’s certainly what somebody like me wants.
“It got to the point in the NHS in London where I couldn’t be given any more treatment but it was very clear that if I went to Germany then I had a chance of taking out this immunotherapy, a new experiment. I was and I am prepared to try that.”
Jowell has received words of support from across the political spectrum, with Commons Speaker John Bercow saying: “In my 20 years in this place I have never met a more courteous or gracious MP.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave his reaction on Twitter.