Taking action to support people struggling with the additional financial costs a cancer diagnosis brings should be the top cancer-related priority for the next government, according to new research released today by CLIC Sargent.
Following the announcement of the general election, the charity conducted a snap poll and 46 parents who have a child with a current or former cancer diagnosis, and 26 young patients and former patients took part.
The online survey found that respondents thought that the top three priorities for the next government relating to cancer services for children and young people should be:
- Tackling the financial impact of cancer on young people and families (25%)
- Better access to emotional and mental health support during and after treatment (22%)
- Improved access to sickness benefits, for example, Disability Living Allowance and Personal Independence Payments (19%)
Asking local political candidates
The charity is now urging families and young people affected by cancer to ask their local candidates about what action they will take to address their priority cancer issues, and to find out more about their policies, so that they have the information they need to make their decision ahead of the vote on 8 June.
To assist, CLIC Sargent has produced a, to help them start a conversation with them about the priorities of young cancer patients and their families.
Clare Laxton, Assistant Director of Policy and Influencing, CLIC Sargent, said:
“It may surprise some that the biggest concern young cancer patients and their families told us about was the financial impact. But we weren’t surprised as we know that for thousands of families dealing with their child’s illness, the thing that causes some of the biggest anxiety is the financial impact; hitting them hard as costs go up and their income goes down, plunging them into debt.
"Ahead of the general election we hope our three priorities for young cancer patients and their families inspires people to talk to their local candidates about their own experiences of cancer, and to ask them what actions they would take, if elected, to address their top concerns.
"We look forward to working with the next government and our supporters to make change happen for young cancer patients and their families in the next Parliament.”
Last year CLIC Sargent launched its Cancer Costs campaign with research that found that on average, parents face extra living expenses of £600 a month when their child is on active treatment. The top extra cost was found to be additional spending on travel to hospital for treatment.
The research also identified issues that many people were having with accessing benefits to help them meet some of these extra costs, like Disability Living Allowance, and Personal Independence Payments.
In response to the Cancer Costs findings, the charity launched an online petition calling for the government to review key policies that could ease some of the financial burden faced by families and young people during treatment, for example the travel assistance scheme, and the process for applying for benefits. This petition now has over 10,000 signatures. Later this year the charity will highlight the emotional and mental health impact a cancer diagnosis has on young lives.
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CLIC Sargent designed a short online questionnaire for young people with a current or past cancer diagnosis and their parents. The survey was promoted on CLIC Sargent’s website, social media channels and through our research contact databases. The survey was live for two weeks during April and May. 72 people completed the questionnaire. Results were analysed using the survey software CVent.