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Robert Halfon supports calls for Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund

News / Thu 25th Oct 2018 at 09:43am

Robert Halfon, MP for Harlow, supports calls for Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund

ROBERT Halfon, MP for Harlow, has pledged support to CLIC Sargent’s campaign calling on the Government to provide better financial support to families struggling to afford the cost of getting their child to and from hospital for vital cancer treatment, ahead of next week’s Budget.

On Monday 22 October, Mr Halfon met with NHS staff and campaigners from CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity for children and young people with cancer, at a Drop-In session in Westminster, sponsored by Mr Halfon, to hear more about the campaign which is urging the Government to set up a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund.

In the UK, there are 4,450 children and young people diagnosed with cancer. Due to the nature of childhood cancer, different cancer types require specialist treatment – which is only available at a small number of specialist treatment centres across the UK. That often means families have to travel around the UK to get to treatment.

According to CLIC Sargent’s research, families in Harlow could face a 54 mile round-trip to get to their nearest specialist treatment centre, Great Ormond Street Hospital, costing them £161.58 a month when treatment is at its most intense.

Robert Halfon said: “At a time of unthinkable stress, travel costs for parents taking their sick children to get vital treatment should be the least of the family’s worries. Instead, as CLIC Sargent’s ‘Are We There Yet?’ research shows, fuel prices impose an additional burden. I was shocked to find out that some parents in Harlow are paying close to £162 per month to travel to Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London, and this is before hospital car parking charges.

“Over the course of treatment, families can be forking out thousands of pounds on travel costs, pushing them into debt. I think it’s about time for the Government to end this social injustice by setting up a Young Patient Travel Fund, allowing families to concentrate on what really matters: looking after their child. I was so pleased to see such great support from my colleagues in Westminster on Monday.”

Kate Lee, Chief Executive at CLIC Sargent, said: “We really appreciate having the support of Robert Halfon for this campaign. We urgently need the Government to take action so that families no longer have to face the threat of debt simply because their child needs to get to hospital for vital cancer treatment.

“The families we work with constantly tell us of the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis, with travel costs being one of the biggest expenses. Often, families do not have the choice to go to their nearest hospital because childhood cancer requires specialist treatment meaning families often travel hundreds of miles and spend thousands of pounds. This leaves many relying on charity grants, borrowing money from family and friends, wiping out savings or being plunged into debt.

“This is not good enough and the Government needs to set up a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund so that families can focus on their child, rather than worrying about mounting bills.”

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