Belfast Telegraph

Irish Cancer Society to reinstate hardship payments for young patients

Ireland's leading cancer charity has said it will reinstate hardship payments to children battling the disease, but not adults.

The Irish Cancer Society apologised for the upset it caused in its shock scrapping of the well-used scheme, which helps thousands every year to pay their everyday bills while undergoing medical treatment.

Last year alone, the fund gave out 1.8 million euro in payments to 2,500 cancer sufferers, 200 of whom were children.

But after an outpouring of upset over the cost-cutting move, the charity said it is "reversing" its decision to discontinue payments to children suffering from cancer and their families.

"This fund for children will now be maintained and the financial support for families of children with cancer will now continue," a spokeswoman said.

"We deeply regret and apologise for the upset which our decision has caused and we hope that this announcement that we are restoring financial support for the more than 200 children and families affected by cancer every year will ease that hurt."

The scheme for adults ends on January 31.

The Irish Cancer Society said it will work to find savings elsewhere to raise around 200,000 euro needed for the hardship payments to children this year.

"The Society has already made significant cuts in expenditure, including cutting staff costs, by over three quarters of a million," the spokeswoman added.

"This includes not covering maternity leaves, the non-filling of a number of vacancies and a small number of staff redundancies.

"We need the public to support us now more than ever."

In an earlier announcement, the charity said it could no longer afford the hardship payments.

Demand for financial help has soared since the economic crash eight years ago, forcing it to choose between the scheme and the other free services it provides, it said.

The financial support programme issued one-off payments to cancer patients and their families if they were unable to pay for food, fuel, home help, respite, childcare or travel and accommodation costs linked to their treatment.

The payments were capped at 1,000 euro per application, or 2,500 euro over three years for the family of a child with cancer.

Cancer patients can lose up to 17,000 euro a year in their income while undergoing treatment, a study by the charity found last year.

The Real Cost of Cancer report revealed sufferers had to come up with as much as 862 euro extra every month for costs associated with their illness.

Those who are forced out of work or who have to work less lose as much as 1,400 euro a month.

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