- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Category: Feature
More than half of people with a cancer diagnosis in Wales worry about money and 56 percent are not offered enough advice about welfare benefits. That is according to a new report by Macmillan Cancer Support, ‘Counting the Costs of Cancer’.
The charity estimates that patients in west Wales experience some of the largest losses of income in the country. Over a five year period, patients in Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire, employed at diagnosis, lose an average of £16,000 to £18,000.
In Powys, patients face the biggest financial impact in Wales in terms of increased living costs – £2,556 over five years. A large factor is travel to and from treatment services.
At an awareness-raising event at the Senedd last week (30 April), Labour Mid and West Wales AM Joyce Watson said:
“Every cancer patient in Wales should be able to access financial advice and support, as set out in the Welsh Government’s 2012 Cancer Delivery Plan.
“We know that cancer patients in Wales are hit with an average cost of £640 per month as a result of their illness. Health boards must ensure that people living with cancer get the support they need to help them manage the financial impact of their diagnosis.”
According to Macmillan Wales analysis, no Welsh health boards’ Local Cancer Delivery Plans or annual reports mentions how they plan to meet the Welsh Government’s financial support requirement.
Susan Morris, General Manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said:
“We warmly welcomed the commitment in the Cancer Delivery Plan but we are extremely concerned that two years on this isn’t happening for everyone who needs it.
“The cost of cancer is a huge problem in Wales and can have a devastating effect on a person’s recovery. Cancer patients should be concentrating on getting through their treatment, rather than worrying about paying the bills.
“Health Boards must do more to ensure people living with cancer get the good quality specialist and timely welfare benefits support they need to help them cope and manage the financial impact of their diagnosis.”
Macmillan Wales is calling on the Welsh Government to issue guidance to Local Health Boards and Trusts which clarifies its expectations on how the commitment within the Cancer Delivery Plan should be implemented consistently across Wales.
For financial support relating to cancer visit www.macmilln.org.uk/financialsupport or find your nearest face-to-face benefits advisor in Wales, or call Macmillan’s Support Line, free on 0808 808 00 00 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday).