Absolutely; I welcome that point. We are not talking simply about increasing capacity all over the place. We must remain focused, particularly on the black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, to give them greater opportunities. We must also focus on quality and on the long-term outcomes. When a match is found, we must ensure that the transplantation happens and that there are no barriers to a good long-term outcome. We need further research if we are going to achieve that.
Professor Craddock has estimated that the network will need £3.4 million of funding over four years. It is not going to be cheap, but there is a great return in terms of lives saved and good health outcomes. The lack of investment in this industry is a reflection on some of the uncertainty about the way in which we should go forward, but Professor Craddock’s approach is a trailblazing way forward.
The call to the Minister is to follow what is said in our report “Cord blood transplantation: meeting the unmet demand”. We made a specific recommendation to the Government to establish a national stem cell transplantation trials network to facilitate and promote high-quality research into cord blood as a curative therapy for patients with blood cancer and blood disorders. He will know that that is very much in line with the Government’s current strategy to develop the life sciences industry in the UK, as stated in the 2012 life sciences update. It says:
“We recognise the importance of empowering patients to participate in clinical research, and have set up the Clinical Trials Gateway, with associated mobile applications”.
We have yet to receive the Government’s formal agreement to support the all-party group’s recommendation, and I look forward to the Minister saying today that he agrees with it. I hope that he joins with the broad support from across the transplant community of well-organised stakeholders in the field who are looking to the Government to provide that lead, support and engagement, to make the UK a world leader in transplantation, research and life sciences—and that will need resources. I also ask that he meets the Anthony Nolan trust and other stakeholders to discuss this issue of research and long-term health outcomes, and the recommendation of the all-party group. We would be happy to welcome him to discuss all those things at our next all-party group meeting.