“We remain tirelessly committed to making progress against cancer, but we face tough decisions and difficult times ahead”: Michelle Mitchell on how Cancer Research UK is adapting to the coronavirus outbreak

Cancer Research UK

As we adapt to new ways of working, our Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell OBE, explains how Cancer Research UK is responding to this public health emergency

First and foremost, our priority is people affected by cancer. We know that many will be facing difficult situations because they’re particularly vulnerable or because their treatment is being affected by the knock-on impact in the health service. We are making sure we can support them during these unprecedented times.  

The situation is constantly changing, so we’re looking at the latest evidence from Government and NHS partners and working with them, as well as many other cancer charities, to make sure we’re in the best position as things evolve. We have guidance for people with cancer on our website and we’re updating our coronavirus blog daily with the latest developments.

Our first task was to protect our staff and volunteers, and so we made an early decision to close shops and postpone or cancel many of our events. While the right thing to do, this will have huge implications for our fundraising, and we expect to see a 20–25% decline in fundraising income in the next financial year. It’s essential that we respond quickly, and this has led to some difficult decisions. We’ve already deferred our spring research grant funding round, and we’re making further cuts to our research funding. This is uncomfortable for us, but we must be realistic about what we can deliver given these difficult circumstances.  

This is undeniably a difficult time for Cancer Research UK, but I am so impressed with how we’ve come together so far to support each other, and to support the UK’s effort against COVID-19. A number of our labs are supplying essential equipment and expertise to aid the testing effort, we’ve released some of our clinical workforce to return to the NHS frontline, and our research staff across the UK are working hard to support research into COVID-19. 

We remain tirelessly committed to making progress for people affected by cancer, but the reality is we face more tough decisions and difficult times ahead. We simply won’t be able to continue funding our life-saving work without support from both the Government and the public – we need you all now more than ever. 

Through this difficult time and beyond, we will always remain focused on the urgency of our mission and resolute in our determination to make progress for people affected by cancer. I know that, despite this challenge, we’ll keep making progress in our mission to beat the disease.

Thank you for all your ongoing support.

Stay safe,

Michelle