15 April 2008
Commenting on the Welsh Assembly Government's announcement today that car parking charges are to be scrapped in Welsh hospitals, Macmillan Cancer Support's General Manager for Wales, Cath Lindley, said:
"Macmillan Cancer Support wholeheartedly welcomes today's announcement and congratulates the Minister for listening to Welsh cancer patients who have long been calling for parking costs to be scrapped.
"On average cancer patients make 60 trips to hospital from diagnosis to treatment to follow up, and as a result they are hit particularly hard, both financially and emotionally, by travelling costs and unfair parking charges. The announcement today will go some way towards reducing the financial burden that can come with a cancer diagnosis."
Commenting on arrangements for Trusts that have external contracts in place, Cath Lindley said:
"We are pleased to see that the Minister has instructed those Trusts that have external contracts in place to introduce schemes to reduce the cost of parking. We will be keeping a close eye on these arrangements to make sure that Welsh cancer patients, wherever they receive treatment, are not finically penalised."
Macmillan Cancer Support launched its Better Deal campaign in 2004 to help people cope with the financial costs that come with a cancer diagnosis. Two of the biggest extra costs that cancer patients must deal with are the costs of travel to and from hospital for treatment, and the cost of parking at hospital. In fact, 70% of cancer patients face extra costs just to get to their treatment. Although there are schemes in place to help these are not always well promoted and not all patients are entitled to assistance.
Cath Lindley added:
"It is absolutely wrong that any cancer patient - regardless of income - who is undergoing regular treatment for a potentially life-threatening disease should be forced to pay for unavoidable transport costs."
As well as calling for the abolishment of hospital car parking charges, Macmillan is calling for:
patients undergoing treatment for cancer should be eligible for assistance on a non means-tested basis under the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS). The Welsh Assembly Government is currently reviewing the HTCS.
the HTCS should be better publicised and reimbursement arrangements simplified
cancer patients travelling to hospital for cancer treatment should be exempt from all charges and tolls for using roads, tunnels and bridges
Macmillan Cancer Support now hopes the Department of Health in England will follow the example set by the Welsh Assembly Government and scrap charges for patients attending hospitals in England.
For more information, or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Gwenllian Griffiths, Communications Manager Wales
01656 867 973 / 07793 579375 / firstname.lastname@example.org