Rising cost for patients

PUBLISHED: 11:26 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:23 06 May 2010

NEW research from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that cancer patients in Comet country could be paying on average £371 for travel and parking costs over the course of their treatment. The survey reveals that on average cancer patients in Herts and Beds

NEW research from Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that cancer patients in Comet country could be paying on average £371 for travel and parking costs over the course of their treatment.

The survey reveals that on average cancer patients in Herts and Beds make 53 visits to hospital for treatment and have to find £5 in travel costs and £2 for parking for every appointment.

But a spokesman for Lister Hospital told that the problem of travel and parking costs is not of the Trust's making. He said it is a national issue which needs to be addressed by Government across the UK.

He added that the East and North Hertfordshire Trust did not want to appear cold-hearted or uncaring about the issue which it has no control or influence over.

He said: "The Trust recognises that for patients with cancer, as well as those with other diseases needing regular treatment, there can be issue with travelling and parking costs to and from hospitals such as the Lister. "That is one of the main reasons why in partnership with TraveLink, the Health Shuttle was launched just under two years ago, which provides many patients with a low cost service that can be booked to suit individual needs.

"Alongside this service, the Trust also reimburses the cost of parking to those on benefits, as well as advising them on how to make a claim for their travelling expenses and pointing them towards additional sources of funding, depending on their personal circumstances.

"This shows that while nationally no additional funding is made available, the Trust recognises the financial burden that some patients face and works hard to help them whenever it can."

Macmillan's cancer costs study found a wide variation around the UK, with patients in London and the South East spending an average of £424 on travel and parking throughout their treatment, compared to £636 in Scotland and £318 in Wales.

However, whatever the costs, the survey found that patients everywhere were struggling to find this extra money at a time when many had seen a dramatic decrease in their income due to having to give up work.

Stephen Richards, Macmillan Cancer Support's director for the region, said: "Missing an appointment is not an option for cancer patients - they have no choice but to pay for travel and parking, which amounts to a stealth tax on illness. We are calling on the Government to end this postcode lottery and give cancer patients a better deal."

Macmillan is calling on local people to join their campaign and contact their MP, and share their experience via its website www.macmillan.org.uk/abetterdeal

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