Saturday 17 March 2018

Patients in shock as Irish Cancer Society says it can no longer afford financial support fund

Cancer survivor Peggy Quinlan. Photo: Mark Condren
Cancer survivor Peggy Quinlan. Photo: Mark Condren
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The Irish Cancer Society has defended the closure of its financial support programme for patients, saying cutting staff salaries would not have generated the necessary funds to maintain the service.

The charity said it cannot cope with the growth in demand from cancer patients who need financial help and it needs to devote its funding towards the free services it provides.

"Since the economic crash of 2008, demand on the financial support programme has grown considerably and last year, 2015, the society gave €1.8m to patients who were facing financial hardship," it said.

"As a charity, which is funded over 90pc by the public, we have found ourselves unable to meet the huge growth in demand for financial support from cancer patients. The society also funds cancer research, provides cancer information and support, a free palliative night nursing service, as well as a whole range of activities to support cancer patients.

"Closing the support programme was a difficult choice to make, but against the background of a drop in fundraised income in 2015, we were forced to choose between the free and unique services which we provide to patients," said a spokeswoman. The charity's total income in 2014 was €20.6m and fell to €19.5m last year. Some €7.4m goes on payroll with the rest on free services and research.

It is not State-funded.

Balbriggan grandmother Peggy Quinlan (60), who was diagnosed with breast cancer eight years ago, is still receiving treatment.

She called on the Government to intervene and provide more financial supports to cancer patients.

Peggy used the €500 she got from the charity to help pay for transport to the Hermitage Clinic in Lucan. She had to travel there on 40 occasions and said the grant was "brilliant help".

"While I was going through chemotherapy, I was worrying where am I going to get the money to pay for the tolls and petrol.

"My husband Thomas is disabled and wasn't working at the time. It was a lot of pressure trying to work out where the money was going to come from for the travel arrangements.

"Going through cancer is tough enough without having to worry about the financial part... it costs so much money," she added.

Irish Independent

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