Government fails to address cost of travel for young cancer patients in Budget

Young people’s cancer charity CLIC Sargent has expressed its disappointment that the voices of over 30,000 people calling for a Young Cancer Patient Fund have been wholly ignored in this week’s Budget.

In September, over 30,000 people signed the charity’s petition calling for a UK-wide Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to be set up. In response to this, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary announced their plans to establish a fund for families travelling to and from the hospital for cancer treatment.

Thousands of families of children with cancer are currently spending hundreds, if not thousands, on getting their child to and from the 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 the hospital for life-saving treatment which can last over three years.
  • The average journey families face is a 60-mile trip to the 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.
Clare Laxton, Associate Director of Policy and Influencing at CLIC Sargent, said:

“It is incredibly disappointing that the Government has ignored the voices of over 30,000 people who supported the call for a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to be established. This means young cancer patients and their families will continue to face having to find hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds simply because their child needs life-saving cancer treatment.

“We welcome the investment in mental health services announced today. But if the Government is serious about ending austerity, we urge them to include a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund in its NHS Long Term plan.

“We need to see Government take action to help families who are dealing with the devastating financial impact of their child’s cancer diagnosis. It cannot continue to look the other way while families are plunged into debt and forced to rely on credit cards, family and friends and charity grants, to make the journey to hospital and back.”