Cancer Patients Need Cash Support To Pay For Necessities

An increasing number of cancer patients going through treatment need to ask the Irish Cancer Society for cash support to pay for necessities like heat and travel expenses.

Applications to the charity's Financial Aid Scheme have increased by 36% in the last three years and the Society now provides over €1 million a year to cancer patients who need financial help. The Irish Cancer Society expects this figure to grow in 2013. Virtually all of the Society’s funding comes from voluntary donations.

"Queries about cancer costs such as heating and travel are now the third most frequent type of call to the National Cancer Helpline (1800 200 700)," said Ms Kathleen O'Meara, Head of Advocacy and Communications at the Irish Cancer Society. "We are hearing an increased anxiety from our callers about the cost to them of having cancer. We are giving more financial support to those who need it but we are seeing a growing number of cancer patients who are simply unable to manage the extra cost to them because they have cancer."

The Society also expressed its concern that patients in treatment for cancer and who are waiting for medical cards are being asked to pay for chemotherapy treatment and that some have received letters from debt collection agencies for payment for hospital charges and chemotherapy treatment.

During 2012, all of the Irish Cancer Society's patient-facing services have recorded an increase in queries about how to bear the cost of cancer. For instance for the first 6 months of 2012, 20% of queries at the Irish Cancer Society's newly established Daffodil Centres, located in hospitals, are related to financial assistance or practical support for a cancer diagnosis. This trend reflects research carried out by the National Cancer Society and National Cancer Registry of Ireland in 2010, which showed that 55% of those surveyed had to use their savings to cover costs because Government support or private health insurance was not adequate. The Irish Cancer Society believes that this figure has increased given further Government cuts since 2010.

In response to the findings of the 2010 research, the Irish Cancer Society has established a volunteer driving programme called Care2Drive and which is already operating from 10 hospitals nationwide, taking cancer patients to and from their treatments. The Society has also extended its Financial Aid Scheme, published a booklet on how to manage the financial impact of cancer and established Daffodil Centres in hospitals where patients and their families can get in-person advice.


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