Cancer patients 'relying on charity handouts' for fuel

Cancer patient about to receive radiotherapy Cancer charity MacMillan says many patients need handouts from them to pay fuel bills

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Cancer patients are relying more on charity handouts as they struggle to pay rising fuel bills, figures reveal.

Macmillan Cancer Support said it had paid out £2,548,563 to 12,669 cancer patients during 2011, up from £1.4m to 7,369 patients five years ago.

The charity wants a government-commissioned independent review of fuel poverty to prioritise cancer patients.

Macmillan's campaign manager, Laura Keely, said it was "shocking" cancer sufferers needed such help.

'Unacceptable reality'

She said: "To feel too scared to put the heating on because of soaring energy bills is an unacceptable reality for thousands of vulnerable cancer patients who feel the cold more and spend long periods of time at home.

"When the charity was established 100 years ago, founder Douglas Macmillan helped cancer patients by handing out sacks of coal to keep them warm.

"It is shocking that a century on, people who are diagnosed with this devastating disease are still relying on charity help to heat their freezing homes."

The charity says 70% of cancer patients under 55 have less income after being diagnosed, often because their illness affects their ability to earn.

But their fuel bills often rise because they are spending more time at home and often feel colder because of their illness.

Research into fuel poverty for Macmillan suggests those on housing benefit and council tax benefit or with a low annual household income are most susceptible to fuel poverty.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    I work and pay national insurance& tax and have a chronic illness and am on a 9 month waiting list for treatment . I also have AXA PPP health insurance and they do not cover my treatment because it is a reoccuring illness . I am taxed for having PPP health care (work provided) but i do not get any treatment,I am very angry and what will the goverment do for me.
    God help people with Cancer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    We are paying a heavy medical price for many in the UK who won't take care of their health. Smoking, drinking and over eating are addictions, which adds enormously to health costs. Selling cigarettes (one of the main causes of cancer) should be made illegal. And alcohol should only be made available on licensed premises with strict conditions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    As a medical doctor, I see many patients with chronic diseases accessing hospital services frequently - fuel costs are horrendous as non-urgent ambulance services have decreased with budget cuts. Such individuals may not be able to work either. The government must re-think its strategy- if charity money is spent on fuel, there's less money for the actual services keeping people alive

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    If the UK government didn't waste billions of foreign aid and paying for asylum seekers and foreign criminals resident in the UK the whole country would be better off, not just cancer sufferers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    I had cancer last yr, aged 48. I still use Mcmillian for support and advice. Most of my treatment was through the summer yet the cold I felt was the same as that on a cold winters day. For 6 months I was extremely ill and wanted nothing more than a warm home to rest in. We could not afford to heat our home, the only solution to keep warm was to sit in a sleeping bag all day.


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