Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that more needs to be done to alleviate the financial burden on cancer patients saying that there are a great deal of costs that fall outside of direct treatment that can put a strain on households at a very difficult time.

Teachta Crowe said:

“Being in treatment for cancer is an enormously difficult time for anyone. The treatments can have debilitating effects on the body and mind and, in many cases, the patient is unable to work. While many of everyday costs of hospital treatments may be taken care of, there are a huge number of additional expenses that are incurred because of personal care items or lifestyle changes that have to be made.

“These additional expenses do not fall under health insurance or medical card cover and more needs to be done to combat the debt that can be incurred following a cancer diagnosis.

“This includes sometimes very simple, but essential, things. Most hospitals have a package in place for parking a minimum of €5 is place in St James, but if you are in the hospital every day for treatment for weeks at a time, it can quickly mount up into hundreds of euro. Other options like bus or LUAS runs at a similar daily rate and one can only imagine the pressure on people travelling outside of the Capital.

“I have come across people sleeping cars in hospital car parks not having the money for a hotel room waiting for an early appointment for themselves or loved ones.

“Simple things like special shampoo, creams, wipes, pads, lunches, and refreshments all cost additional money.

“Having to heat your home more is a very common side effect of chemo treatment. This again can rack up the cost of running your household at a time one can least afford it. Childcare might become more necessary due to hospital visits. Everyone in Ireland knows the outrageous costs of the childcare industry due to government negligence.

“The Irish Cancer Society in their ‘Real Cost of Cancer’ report estimated that the average additional cost post-diagnosis is €756 per month. This is a staggering amount of money. No one should have to bear the equivalent of a mortgage payment while coping with cancer.

“Some very simple changes can help relieve this burden. Inpatient fees for cancer patients and hospital parking charges should be eliminated. The automatic medical card for terminally ill and cancer patients should be fully implemented and streamlined to ensure that patients receive their card as soon as possible after diagnosis. Prescription charges should be removed and the Drug Payment Scheme amended to take into account the long-term nature of a cancer battle.

“Tackling and dealing with living with cancer is hard enough without these added financial challenges. Surely, we shouldn’t be forcing those who are struggling with this life changing and, in some cases, life ending disease to be snowed under with mounting and astronomical bills at such a difficult time in their lives.”