14 December 2014
A massive £25m has been put in the pockets of cancer patients and carers thanks to a specialist financial advice service at Raigmore Hospital.
Since it was established in 2004, the Macmillan CAB Partnership has helped more than 5500 patients, carers and families across the Highlands. As well as helping people claim government benefits, the service has also people claim grants, free white goods and supported them to deal with debts – all to a value of £25m.
Lesley Newton from the Macmillan CAB Partnership, said: 'Money worries are a real issue for many people who have been diagnosed with cancer.'
'Some people will need to give up work and this can come at the same time as they face increased costs like travelling to hospital for treatment, or higher heating bills as many cancer patients feel the cold more.'
'It’s fantastic to know that this service has been there to support over 5500 people across the Highlands who have been affected by cancer and I would urge anyone else who thinks they may need our help to get in touch.'
The service, a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support, Inverness Badenoch and Strathspey Citizens Advice Bureau, NHS Highland, Highland Council and the Department for Work and Pensions, was set up after research found cancer patients were missing out on millions of pounds of benefits.
Research carried out on behalf of Macmillan last year found 80% of Scottish cancer patients are £420 worse off after they are diagnosed through a mix of lost income and extra costs.
Macmillan wants everyone diagnosed with cancer in Scotland to be told how to access their help claiming benefits and dealing with other financial issues.
Thomas Gorman from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: 'Cancer can have a large and negative impact on someone’s finances, especially those from remote and rural communities who can face significant travel costs travelling to and from treatment.'
'Many patients will never have claimed benefits before and trying to navigate the system and fill in long complex forms while dealing with the physical and emotional problems cancer brings can be very difficult.'
'We know a significant amount of the £25m this fantastic service has helped cancer patients claim would most likely have gone unclaimed if the support hadn’t been there.'
'Services like this are vitally important in helping patients access the money they need and we are very grateful to everyone who has helped make it a success.'
To contact the service call 01463 706 178 or visit them at Raigmore Hospital, Old Perth Road, Inverness, IV2 3UJ.