Cancer patients being ‘let down’

The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital
The entrance to Stoke Mandeville Hospital

Cancer patients are being ‘bitterly let down’ by the benefits system according to a support worker.

Lesley Kandola delivers cancer support on behalf of Macmillan at Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

And after a survey by the organisation found that at least 4,500 cancer patients across the country have waited six months or more to be awarded their disability personal independence payment (PIP) she decided to speak out.

She said: “People who are battling a life-changing diagnosis such as cancer are being bitterly let down by this failing system.

“Every day we’re seeing cancer patients through our doors looking for help to navigate their PIP application and desperate for advice on how to speed up this frustratingly slow process.

“A recent client who we helped waited over nine months before her PIP was paid. She became so frustrated by the delay that she contacted her local MP to get his help and try to get her claim processed.

“She claimed PIP in July 2013 but in the end it was paid in April 2014. The delay caused her real hardship, at an extremely difficult time when she was trying to cope with a diagnosis of primary breast cancer and secondary lung cancer.”

PIP started to replace Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for people aged 16 to 64 from April 8, 2013.

It provides an amount of money to people living with a serious illness.

Anyone claiming PIP must have an assessment to access between £21.55 and £138.05 a week.

Steve Naylor of the Citizens Advice Bureau, said: “These disability benefits are very important, it means that people with cancer and other illnesses receive the financial support that they need to pay for additional costs that arise as a result of their illness or disability.

“For people who have been diagnosed with cancer, costs often include travel to and from hospital for chemotherapy and other treatments.”