Money Advice Service For Cancer Patients

Cancer patients and their families are to benefit from a new money help service. Inverclyde Council’s social work team, working with Macmillan Cancer Support, will give financial advice and support to vulnerable residents who are suffering from the disease.

The council’s health and social care committee agreed yesterday to the initiative in an effort to reduce the financial worries and hardship that can often be a consequence of prolonged cancer treatment. Councillor Joe McIlwee, committee convener, said: “We want people living with cancer locally to be fully aware of the benefits they are entitled to and we want to help them gain access to those benefits at the earliest possible time.  

“Cancer treatment is undoubtedly a worrying time for patients and their families and it’s very unfortunate that financial worries accompany this. Being unable to work through illness, together with the costs of transport to hospital and prescriptions can add to that stress. “We are pleased this new specialist financial advice and support service is coming to Inverclyde to help alleviate some of those financial worries that local cancer sufferers have.”

Around 450 people were diagnosed as having cancer each year between 1998 and 2002 in Inverclyde and it is predicted that nationally there will be a 28% rise in cancer cases over the next 20 years. It is estimated that 400 claims for benefit would generate £800,000 a year. In addition it is anticipated there would be an extra 100 Macmillan Patient Grant applications a year.

Elspeth Atkinson, Macmillan Cancer Support Director for Scotland, said: “This is an important service that will change lives in Inverclyde by helping people affected by cancer to access the benefits to which they are entitled, but which so often elude them.
“Financial concerns should not have to be the first thing on someone’s mind when they are diagnosed – and we know that money worries are second only to physical pain as a significant cause of stress for cancer patients. We congratulate Inverclyde Council for their commitment on this issue, which will mean a much improved service for people affected by cancer in the area.”

Two welfare rights officers will be recruited to work as part of the council, managed and supported by social work and funded by Macmillan. They will work with local health centres to establish a referrals system for the new service.