Cancer patients lose out despite partial U-turn by Irish Cancer Society

The Irish Cancer Society will continue to withdraw financial assistance from a majority of patients, regardless of yesterday’s U-turn on claimants.
Cancer patients lose out despite partial U-turn by Irish Cancer Society

The charity yesterday said it had partially reversed a decision to withdraw financial support to patients struggling to make ends meet. It also apologised for the distress the original decision caused.

However, a spokesperson confirmed it would still go ahead with plans to withdraw funding from adults with cancer.

Its aim is to focus resources on the families of children with the disease.

Financial aid in cases of adult cancer patients will cease on January 31.

Among the 2,714 cases in receipt of the charity’s financial aid last year, a total of 226 were in respect of children sufferers.

The society said it will need almost €200,000 this year to continue the fund. It said it will now work to find the savings necessary to ensure the fund is maintained for children with cancer.

“We deeply regret and apologise for the upset which our decision has caused and we hope that this announcement that we are restoring financial support for the more than 200 children and families affected by cancer every year will ease that hurt,” it said in a statement.

The society reported saving over €750,000 already with cost-cutting measures. They include not covering for staff on maternity leave, the non-filling of a number of vacancies, and what is described as a “small number” of staff redundancies.

“We need the public to support us now more than ever,” the society said.

Pointing to examples of the free services provided by the charity to cancer patients, it cited the palliative care night nursing service, Volunteer Driver Service for cancer patients travelling for chemotherapy treatment, Daffodil Centres in hospitals nationwide, Cancer Nurseline, and counselling for cancer patients.

“As a charity, we are trying to do the best we can with the money which the public generously give us,” it said in the statement. “We are the largest voluntary funder of cancer research, working to find better ways of diagnosing and treating cancer.

Initially, a disclosure of the scheme’s withdrawal, along with confirmation that society CEO John McCormack is on an annual salary of €145,000, led to criticism of the charity’s pay levels.

However, yesterday’s announcement was welcomed by Terry Ring, founder of Cliona’s Foundation.

“Unless you have a seriously ill child yourself, it is very difficult to imagine the financial strain this can put you under,” said Ms Ring.

She and husband Brendan set up Cliona’s Foundation in 2007 to provide financial aid to the families of children fighting cancer, following the death of their daughter from a brain tumour.

“Families who are already coping with childhood cancer shouldn’t have to shoulder financial burdens, and we at Cliona’s Foundation would like to congratulate the Irish Cancer Society for realising this and making the right decision.”

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