The £570 per month ‘cancer tax’ that affects thousands

Charity reveals full scale of hidden costs including parking fees and loss of income

Cancer victims are being hit with a financial penalty because of their illness, research has revealed.

Transport costs incurred getting to appointments, hospital parking fees and increased heating bills as a result of more time spent at home all contribute to a “cancer tax” that averages out as the same as a monthly mortgage, a report by Macmillan Cancer Support found.

The charity said that of the 324,579 people diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year, four out of five are hit with extra costs averaging £570 a month.

This year alone, the charity estimates, 269,000 British people will be forced to face the consequences of being told they have the disease – and then deal with the stress of the financial burden it brings.

Ciarán Devane, Macmillan’s chief executive, said: “Cancer comes with a whopping price-tag for many patients. Combined with the current recession and with welfare cuts, the cost of the disease is hitting the most vulnerable hardest. This is a growing problem which cannot be ignored.”

The financial penalties hit almost immediately, as cancer patients in England are charged to park every time they visit a hospital for treatment. That costs on average £38 a month for the two in five patients affected, which could mean a bill of £456 if treatment continued for a year.

Traveling to appointments hits even more patients – an estimated seven out of 10 – and cost an average of £170 a month, or £2,040 a year.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, condemned the charges. “It is a fact that the NHS is not completely free, with services like dental check-ups already operating a system of co-payment and band-based charging,” she said. “So I’m pleased Macmillan has highlighted some of the many surreptitious charges that have become commonplace. While politicians have finally introduced a ‘duty of candour’ into the NHS itself, they have yet to fully adopt it themselves.”

Around 85 per cent of cancer patients see their monthly expenses shoot up by an average of £270 a month after being diagnosed. One in five ends up splashing out £8 a month on over-the-counter or prescription medicines, while more than half experience higher day-to-day living costs of an average £63 a month.

Higher fuel bills of £24 a month – or £288 a year – are experienced by one in three patients as a consequence of the extra time they spend at home. One in 20 is forced to spend £56 a month on home help or live-in support.

The biggest financial burden is through loss of income which affects almost one in three patients, costing them an average of £860 a month.

Macmillan is calling on the Government, businesses and the NHS to act urgently to ease the terrible financial strain on people living with cancer. “We must act now to protect the financially vulnerable from having to foot the bill for their illness,” said Mr Devane.

Case studies

Gillian Hardy, 31, from Plymouth, was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2011 and had three operations, chemotherapy and a year of the Herceptin drug to treat it. The cost of parking at hospital was a big issue.

“My job doesn’t offer sick pay, so I’ve had to live off statutory sick pay, and paying for parking ate into my weekly living allowance,” she said. “My treatment has been quite lengthy, maybe more so than for other breast cancer patients.”

She has also been faced with paying for parking spaces that aren’t there. “At Plymouth they have a reserved area for oncology patients parking near the chemo unit which is very useful, but it’s often full, and I’ve had confrontations with other people using it to park so they can nip off to the gym opposite. This has been really stressful. The car park management company does nothing to monitor this. So I don’t really know what I’m paying for.

“The only way I have been able to cope with this is by trying to get appointments avoiding peak times and leaving at least 30 minutes’ spare time for finding a space, but this isn’t always possible.”

Emma from Kent, a mother-of-two, was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2009. After her illness the 38-year-old lost half of her income while her bills rocketed, leaving her and her children “financially crippled”.

“While I had treatment, losing my hair and having terrible mouth ulcers, I had sick pay from my carer’s job, but a year on I tried to go back to work and couldn’t,” she said. “The illness had left me exhausted and weak.”

Her treatment has seen her income fall from an £800 monthly salary to less than £400 in benefits. She said: “My heating bills tripled as I needed to keep warm following my illness and all the petrol to get to hospital and car parking had left me financially crippled. Worst of all, my kids had to miss out on everything, even school trips as I struggled to put food on the table.

“I’d racked up £1,600 of debt trying to keep my head above water. With food prices rocketing, I often go hungry a couple of times a month so I can put food on the table for  my kids.”

In numbers

£570 The average monthly ‘cancer tax’ for four out of five sufferers – extra costs incurred to cover travelling, parking and heating.

£860 Monthly loss  of income  experienced by  one in three cancer patients.

£456 Cost of parking  at hospital for a year while undergoing treatment.

Suggested Topics
News
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    QA/BA - Agile

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

    PPA Supply Teachers

    £121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prima...

    Primary Supply Teacher

    £121 - £142 per annum: Randstad Education Luton: Early Years, KS1 & 2 Prim...

    Primary Supply Teacher

    £121 - £142 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Primary supply teacher Hertford...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?