Irish Cancer Society calling for budgetary relief for cancer patients

Proposals would see prescription and in-patient charges scrapped for cancer patients

Irish Cancer Society calling for budgetary relief for cancer patients

Head of services at the ICS, Donal Buggy | Photocall file photo

The Irish Cancer Society (ICS) is calling on the government to make life easier for cancer patients in next week’s budget.

The ICS pre-budget proposal is calling for the abolition of the prescription charge, a reduction in the monthly drugs payment threshold from €144 to the pre-crash levels of €85 and the abolition of the €75 in-patient fee.

The society says the removal of the in-patient charge and prescription charges would benefit cancer patients by between €300 and €1,450 per year.

ICS Head of Services & Advocacy, Donal Buggy said that since 2008 successive governments have transferred the cost of being sick from the State to patients.

“We are calling on the Government to respond to the desperate financial situation of cancer patients, which is being made worse by the indiscriminate statutory charges being levied on them,” he said.

“The Irish Cancer Society considers these charges to be an excessive taxation of the sick and we want the Budget to reverse these unreasonable costs.”

The ICS has estimated that abolishing the prescription charge would cost €120 million, reducing the Drugs Payment Scheme to €85 a month would cost €64 million and abolishing the in-patient charge of €75 a night would cost €17.7 million.

Recent research commissioned by the Society entitled 'The Real Cost of Cancer,' shows that Government charges are the final straw for patients, many of whom are already crippled by the impact of a reduced income and increased costs.

The study found cancer patients - even those with a medical card or private health insurance - are spending an extra €862 per month on average.

Patients who are forced to give up their employment work less or lose income as a result of having cancer face an income drop averaging €1,400 a month, or €16,750 per year, according to the study.

“We urge the Government to implement the proposals set out in our submission so that the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis is reduced, so that hard-pressed families and individuals can afford to get by, and so that patients no longer have to face every day dilemmas such as choosing between paying for their child’s medication or their own,” said Mr. Buggy.