Over many years, patients have told the Irish Cancer Society that the cost of cancer causes immense anxiety and distress during the most physically and financially vulnerable point of their lives. Now the spiralling cost of living has made this intolerable reality worse.
The Irish Cancer Society is appealing to Government to prioritise cancer patients in Budget 2023. There are approximately 200,000 cancer survivors living in the country, with a further 45,000 new diagnoses to be made next year. Never has this awful disease affected more people and the Government action on costs been more needed.
Cancer patients don’t only face costs such as medication, GP visits, specialist dressings, travel, wigs and additional dental care, they also have to bear the burden of statutory charges like in-patient fees when they get chemotherapy. All these costs are on top of reduced incomes while they go through treatment, and without the security of being automatically entitled to a medical card. Now more than ever, the State must do more to protect patients and their loved ones from the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis.
The extent of these costs faced by families affected by cancer is not limited to finances though. There are deep concerns being expressed to Irish Cancer Society nurses around the availability of healthcare, particularly diagnostics. The impact of late presentations and delayed diagnosis has already been observed by clinicians. The National Cancer Registry of Ireland has estimated that approximately 10 – 14% fewer cancers were diagnosed in 2020, with 2021 figures still unavailable. It is essential that cancer care involves timely access to services at all stages of the cancer care pathway for all people, from screening to survivorship.
For young people with cancer, the facts are laid bare in our report, “The Real Cost of Childhood and Adolescent Cancer”, that families are under immense strain when their children receive a diagnosis of cancer. Families have debt and costs piling up alongside a decreased income, as at least one adult family member is needed full-time to care for their child during treatment. While bringing their loved ones to cancer treatment, they should not have to worry about how they are going to make ends meet; our dedicated Pre-Budget submission for children, adolescents and young adults with cancer 2023 shows the specific needs this group faces, and we urge the Government to take action and to Cut the Costs. Thank you to Hand in Hand, Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland, the Gavin Glynn Foundation, CanCare4Living and CanTeen for supporting our Pre-Budget recommendations.
Our key asks to support the young people and adults affected by cancer, include:
- Abolishing all inpatient charges, to the cost of €30 million
- Providing medical cards to all cancer patients
- Addressing the diagnostic backlog from COVID-19 to the sum of €15 million
- Extending the Domiciliary Care Allowance to 16 and 17 year olds to the cost of €30 million
Below are the short summaries and full submissions for the 2023 Pre-Budget.
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