Cancer charity calls for Winter Fuel Payments to be extended

PUBLISHED: 14:15 21 December 2009 | UPDATED: 00:42 16 June 2010

One in four cancer patients in the UK will be forced back to bed this Christmas because they cannot afford to put the heating on and struggle with high fuel bills, warns leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

One in four cancer patients in the UK will be forced back to bed this Christmas because they cannot afford to put the heating on and struggle with high fuel bills, warns leading cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support.

Unfortunately, fuel bills are not the only concern for cancer patients. Suffering from the cold can also affect recovery, according to 85 per cent2 of Macmillan's health and social care professionals.

Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support says: "I see cancer patients suffering from exhaustion during and after treatment all the time.

"Add the factor of 'feeling cold' to exhaustion and you are left with seriously de-motivated cancer patients that can do little other than go back to bed to stay warm and conserve energy."

"Cancer patients who are depressed or de-motivated are less likely to be active or engage in exercise, yet going about 'normal, daily activities' could improve their well-being and reduce the likelihood of long-term health problems," adds Professor Maher.

This Christmas, the charity is calling for the Winter Fuel Payment to be extended to cancer patients in need and the terminally ill. Macmillan also wants the Government to recognise cancer patients as a group that should have full access to the new mandatory social support that energy companies will have to offer by 2011. Such is the impact of spiralling energy bills for cancer patients, that in Devon alone Macmillan has seen a 204 per cent increase in the amount money spent on fuel grants from September 2008 to September 2009. In this time, Macmillan awarded a staggering £24,811 to cancer patients in Devon specifically for that purpose.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive of Macmillan Cancer Support says: "The effects of cancer treatment can leave people feeling much colder, which in turn can lead to higher electricity and gas bills. And despite many being too ill to work, those under 60 receive no help to pay for this extra fuel. The current system is completely failing cancer patients and needs to be brought bang up to date.'"

Ciarán Devane continues: 'It is appalling that one in five cancer patients undergoing treatment is living in fuel poverty in the UK right now; double that of the general population.4'

Find out more by visiting www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty

Anyone struggling with their fuel bills can get hold of a free fuel poverty fact sheet by calling 0808 808 00 00 or visiting www.macmillan.org.uk/fuelpoverty


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