We attended the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences in England, and the Scottish National Party conference in Scotland during September and October 2011 to secure support for our work.
In England, we met MPs and local councillors to ask them to support our quality care project, which aims to identify standards of quality prostate cancer care.
All of the local councillors we met agreed to support us by discussing prostate cancer and our work with their colleagues. They have agreed to feed back to us about the steps they are able to take to prioritise prostate cancer care in their local areas.
Most of the MPs we met agreed to speak to men, clinicians and healthcare professionals in their constituencies about what quality prostate cancer care means to them. Some MPs also agreed to ask questions in Parliament about the quality of prostate cancer services across the country.
In Scotland, we asked MSPs to sign our Pledge for Prostate Cancer and commit to supporting our work to reduce inequalities in prostate cancer care. We were delighted that 33 new MSPs signed the pledge, including First Minister, Alex Salmond. Now, 122 out of 129 MSPs have signed up. This means we have successfully raised prostate cancer as an important issue within the Scottish Parliament and have a good base of support for improving prostate cancer care in Scotland.
We also discussed our quality care work with the MSPs we met and many of them agreed to consider holding meetings in their constituencies.
We will continue to work with the MPs, MSPs and local councillors we met during the conferences throughout the year to push for improvements in prostate cancer care across the UK.
What are party conferences?
Party conferences are the annual meetings of political parties in the UK. The main political parties hold a large annual conference, usually in the autumn, as well as a smaller spring conference. Each conference is different but, in general, political parties use them to decide party business, elect leaders and set the party's agenda for the coming year. Politicians, local councillors, party members and people who want to influence the party's policies attend conference because it offers opportunities to discuss a range of issues.
Why does the Charity attend party conferences?
The Charity attends party conferences to help us raise awareness of prostate cancer and the needs of people affected by the disease among politicians and local councillors. Attending conference is a good way to meet and network with the people who can help us make improvements to prostate cancer services and care.