New illness payment must be extended to cocooning cancer patients- Irish Cancer Society

Cocooning cancer patients must have fair access to pandemic illness payments so they do not feel forced to risk an unsafe return to work, the Irish Cancer Society has said.

Cancer patients who are considered extremely medically vulnerable and are unable to work due to cocooning cannot currently access the new Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payment of €350 per week, which is only available for those with a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 infection.

This leaves some cancer patients of working age relying on standard illness benefit or supplementary welfare payments of up to €203 per week, causing a serious financial hit for those who would otherwise be working.

The Irish Cancer Society is calling on the Government to address this inconsistency by extending the payment to those cancer patients who have been asked to cocoon so they can avail of the full €350 weekly illness payment.

Irish Cancer Society CEO Averil Power said: “At the moment patients who have been asked by the Government to cocoon are actually being penalised for following public health advice and protecting themselves by staying home from work.

“We already know of the financial strain a cancer diagnosis causes from our report on the Real Cost of Cancer, and now we are receiving calls from distressed cancer patients who have been financially devastated by being unable to work.

“As more businesses start to reopen, this is becoming an increasing problem for those who cannot work from home. It is essential that this issue is dealt with as an urgent priority.

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We do not want to see a situation where cancer patients who should be cocooning feel forced to unsafely return to work for the income to help them make ends meet.

“I have written to the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, along with the Ministers for Health and Public Expenditure and Reform, calling on them to extend Covid-19 Enhanced Illness Benefit payments to people who have been advised to cocoon.”

Irish Cancer Society Support Line

Anyone affected by cancer who is experiencing financial hardship or other issues related to cancer and Covid-19 can contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line on 1800 200 700.