CLIC Sargent welcomed the news, which came during Prime Minister’s Questions. MP for Harlow Robert Halfon asked if the Prime Minister would agree to meet with him and the charity to discuss setting upthe fund, which would support families travelling to and from hospital for cancer treatment.
The Prime Minister told the House of Commons: “…He raises a very important issue and obviously our thoughts are with those children and their families at must be a really difficult time for both the children and their families and we do continue to do to look at what we can do to help them.”
Mrs May then went on to say: “We absolutely recognise there’s more to do, particularly for the cost of living for cancer patients including children and young people as my Right Honourable Friend has raised and I know that my Right Honourable Friend, the relevant Minister from the Department of Health and Social Care will be very pleased to meet with you.”
Thousands of families of children with cancer are currently spending hundreds, if not thousands, on getting their child to and from hospital for vital cancer treatment, with little financial support from the Government. CLIC Sargent’s research found:
- Children and young people with cancer face journeys twice as long, costing twice as much as adults with the same disease to get to specialist treatment in the UK
- Young cancer patients and families face average travel costs of £180 a month on their ‘cancer commute’ getting to hospital for life saving treatment which can last over three years.
- The average journey families face is a 60-mile trip to hospital and back – the longest distance travelled by families is over 800 miles
- Treatment for childhood cancer can last anything from months to over three years, meaning families face making the journey countless times.
In September more than 30,000 people signed CLIC Sargent’s petition calling for a UK-wide Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to be set up. In response to this, Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, pledged their support for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund.
Following Monday’s Budget this week CLIC Sargent said that it was ‘incredibly disappointing’ that no mention of a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund had been included by the Chancellor but today’s comments by the Prime Minister are promising.
Clare Laxton, Associate Director of Policy and Influencing at CLIC Sargent, said: “It’s very encouraging sign now that the Prime Minister has told Parliament that more needs to be done to help with costs of living for young cancer patients.
"More than 30,000 people have already backed our call for the Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund and now we need to see the Government take action to help families being plunged into debt and forced to rely on credit cards, family and friends and charity grants, to make the journey to hospital and back.
"We look forward to meeting with the Minister with Robert and discussing how young cancer patients and their families can be better supported with the huge travel costs they face for getting to treatment.”