Leinster House

Irish Cancer Society reaction to Budget 2020

  • Cautiously welcomes funding for the National Cancer Strategy;
  • Welcomes reduced costs for those on Drugs Payment Scheme and medical card holders;
  • Disappointed that inpatient charges for cancer patients are retained;
  • Welcomes 50c increase on price of cigarettes;

The Irish Cancer Society has today cautiously welcomed news from Minister Simon Harris that some budget will be made available to progress the implementation the National Cancer Strategy. This comes on the back of pressure from the Cancer Society to fund the 10-year plan, which received no additional budget in 2019. However, it has warned that the devil is in the detail and it will seek clarification on the exact amount of funding allocated for 2020.

Reacting to Budget 2020, Averil Power, Chief Executive of the Irish Cancer Society said: “I am pleased that some additional funding is being made available for the National Cancer Strategy. The Irish Cancer Society will seek further detail on the amount allocated and will continue to call for adequate budget that can deliver the improvements in cancer services that patients deserve.”

In addition to funding for the National Cancer Strategy, the Irish Cancer Society welcomed the announcement in Budget 2020 to reduce the cost of medical expenses for people on the Drugs Payment Scheme and medical card holders, but expressed disappointment at the decision to retain inpatient charges for cancer patients.

“Cancer patients face huge financial stresses as they go through treatment, and often for years afterwards. Slight reductions in the cost of medication and an increase in medical card income limits are welcome, but the Government has to go further and ensure the financially devastating inpatient charges are removed.”

“Patients having chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment are charged €80 for each session. This can climb up to a maximum of €800 a year. Those who have neither a medical card nor private health insurance are forced to pay the charge and can be chased by debt collectors when they don’t. This is no way to treat a particularly financially and physically vulnerable group of people.”

The Society has also welcomed the Government’s announcement that the price of cigarettes will increase by a further 50 cent tonight. The 50 cent rise is the fifth continuous increase at this rate, and will mean the price of a pack of cigarettes will rise to €13.50.

Ms. Power said: “We are pleased that price of cigarettes continues to increase. This will encourage people to stop smoking and is ultimately the most effective way of stopping children from starting to smoke.”