21 December 2009
One in four 1 cancer patients in the UK will be forced back to bed this Christmas because they cannot afford to put the heating on and struggle with high fuel bills, warns leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.
Unfortunately, fuel bills are not the only concern for cancer patients. Suffering from the cold can also affect recovery, according to 85 per cent 2 of Macmillan’s health and social care professionals.
Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support says:
'I see cancer patients suffering from exhaustion during and after treatment all the time. Add the factor of ‘feeling cold’ to exhaustion and you are left with seriously de-motivated cancer patients that can do little other than go back to bed to stay warm and conserve energy.
'Cancer patients who are depressed or de-motivated are less likely to be active or engage in exercise, yet going about ‘normal, daily activities’ could improve their well-being and reduce the likelihood of long-term health problems.'
This Christmas, the charity is calling for the Winter Fuel Payment to be extended to cancer patients in need 3 and the terminally ill. Macmillan also wants the Government to recognise cancer patients as a group that should have full access to the new mandatory social support that energy companies will have to offer by 2011.
Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says:
'The effects of cancer treatment can leave people feeling much colder, which in turn can lead to higher electricity and gas bills. And despite many being too ill to work, those under 60 receive no help to pay for this extra fuel. The current system is completely failing cancer patients and needs to be brought bang up to date.'
Laura, 37, from Cambridgeshire was diagnosed with a rare form of cervical cancer in January 2009. She recalls:
'I was at home with cancer, without a job and on an income of just £60 a week. Outside, there was snow on the ground. Inside, my husband and I had to make choices between eating or heating; we chose to eat and I sat shivering in bed under two duvets.'
Ciarán Devane continues:
'It is appalling that one in five cancer patients undergoing treatment is living in fuel poverty in the UK right now; double that of the general population. 4'
We want the public to support Macmillan’s campaign to freeze out fuel poverty for cancer patients by signing the pledge at www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty
Anyone struggling with their fuel bills can get hold of a free fuel poverty fact sheet by calling 0808 808 00 00 or visiting www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty
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CASE STUDIES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
For further information, please contact:
Anna Brosnan - Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 7818 (out of hours 07801 307068)
Notes to Editors:
1 26 per cent. Macmillan Cancer Support Online survey of 974 people with cancer, May 2009
2 Macmillan Cancer Support survey of 66 Macmillan professionals including nurses, GPs, other healthcare professionals, patient information managers, social workers, and benefits advisers, November 2009
3 Macmillan defines cancer patients in need as those undergoing treatment in the past year, who are terminally ill, or in receipt of Council Tax Benefit or Housing Benefit
4 9.6% of the general (non vulnerable) population are in fuel poverty, Department of Energy and Climate Change fuel poverty statistics, 2009. 19% of cancer patients undergoing treatment in the last year are in fuel poverty, Macmillan Cancer Support Online survey of 974 people with cancer, May 2009
Fuel poverty is defined as when a family needs to spend at least 10 per cent of their income on heating and lighting their home.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
Macmillan Cancer Support improves the lives of people affected by cancer. We provide practical, medical, emotional and financial support and push for better cancer care.