Yesterday, the think tank Demos published research findings that show the financial burden to cancer patients is equivalent to taking on a mortgage. Importantly, their report, Paying the Price: Getting to grips with the financial consequences of cancer, recognises that for blood cancer patients this strain is even greater.
Many of the people who receive a bone marrow transplant to cure their blood cancer can attest to this. I’ve heard hundreds of stories from transplant patients about the twin problems of losing their income, while having to take on costs related to the treatment. At a time when patients should be dedicating their time to getting better, it is unacceptable that so many are struggling to cope with managing their finances and suffering the acute worry this causes.
For example, I recently heard from one transplant recipient who had to find the finances to buy a car to travel to appointments, as the risk of infection associated with transplant made travelling via London’s public transport systems impossible. The financial implications of this caused significant stress to her in a period in which she should have been fully focused on recovery.
The stories we hear from patients, now supported by this new research from Demos, indicate that more needs to be done. Government can definitely do more to ease the financial strain, and the NHS and charitable organisations can work together to support patients that encounter financial issues as a result of their treatment. Such support should include providing information to patients, signposting them to organisations that can help, and also ensuring the co-location of financial advice services in health settings.
A transplant patient is a patient for life, so ensuring support for these people is a principal focus of our work. That’s why we’re campaigning for the NHS to consider a return to active life as something to aim for when treating a person. Returning patients to financial health is an important component of achieving this, which is why we welcome the Demos report. You can read more about our Roadmap for Recovery campaign here.
Anthony Nolan Chief Executive