The Citizens Advice service in Milton Keynes is urging people who have been diagnosed with cancer, to contact its helpline if they are worried about claiming benefits, or if they have other money worries.
The local charity, which provided support to 8000 people in MK last year, said that many people living with a cancer are often unaware of how to access vital financial support in the aftermath of a diagnosis.
Ben Thomas, the bureau’s Director said ‘Cancer is one of the toughest fights that a person can ever face. What isn’t always understood is that having cancer is also expensive – 4 in 5 people who are diagnosed, experience some kind of financial difficulty after their illness is detected’
Citizens Advice MK says that loss of income, higher utility bills and increased travel costs are all common problems amongst people living with cancer, with the average patient being up to £600 per month worse off. Staff at the charity say that many of the people they meet are usually unaware of what help might be available to them, or how to go about how accessing welfare benefits, grants, and other types of support.
Mr Thomas explained that help is available through a partnership between Citizens Advice and Macmillan that has ensured hundreds of patients and their families are given important advice on how to cover the ‘cost of cancer’. ‘We have a longstanding relationship with our colleagues at Macmillan, who fund our Casework services at both MK University Hospital and Stoke Mandeville. Our team works closely with frontline medical staff who can refer patients to them if they are worried about money, their jobs, or other practical and legal issues’
Timing, he warned, is critical, especially as Covid-19 has changed the way many patients interact with medical services. ‘We’ve heard lots in the last few weeks about the pandemic’s effect on the NHS generally as well as cancer treatment. Whilst this can obviously impact on people’s health, we’re also concerned that fewer patients might be signposted to our service if their scans or appointments have been interrupted in some way. I’d urge anyone who has had a diagnosis and who is worried about their financial situation, to contact us as soon as possible’
If you have cancer or you are caring for someone who has been diagnosed with cancer and you need to speak to someone about benefits or money problems, you can call Citizens Advice Milton Keynes on freephone 0808 278 7991
Lines are open Mon – Fri 9:00am – 5:00pm.
Patients at MK University Hospital can also access an adviser via the Cancer Unit by calling 01908 996563 and asking for an appointment.
Listen back to our interview with Ben from MK Citizens Advice Bureau about the services they run to support cancer patients and families/carers in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire below.