More than half of cancer patients in North West worried about paying bills

An exclusive survey commissioned for ITV News has found more than half of cancer patients in the North West are now living with daily worries about paying their bills as well as their diagnosis.

The Maggie’s Cancer charity says that 53% of North West cancer patients are currently worried about paying their bills on top of their diagnosis.

This can be compared with the figure higher than the 37% who are more concerned about their family than the disease and the 16% of cancer patients more worried about the impact of their condition on their relationship.

Credit: ITV News

Julie Tennant was 58 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and cares for her disabled husband.

She worked as a support worker, and her husband is currently working part time to try and tide them over.

Dipping into their lifeline money pot, she worries about what will happen when the money runs out, and they can’t keep afloat.

Julie said: "It's quite easy to become depressed about the financial element than the diagnosis, you're too busy robbing Peter to pay Paul to worry about yourself.

A distant reality which Julie says is increasingly coming nearer, especially with their rising bills and the cost of their weekly food shop going up.

Julie Tennant has breast cancer and also cares for her disabled husband. Credit: ITV Granada

Benefits Advisor Neil Murray says he is supporting more and more patients who are concerned about the rising costs and how they will pay for their bills after they go on sick leave or stop working due to their cancer and consequent treatments for it.

Neil said: "We are seeing more people now than ever before. The proportion of people worrying about the cost of living has increased."

In response, a government spokesperson said: “We know people are struggling, which is why we’re providing record financial support worth an average £3,300 per household.

"We have raised benefits in line with inflation, increased the National Living Wage and are supporting families with food, energy and other essential costs.”

Credit: ITV News

There is support available - but there can be a delay in receiving PIP (Personal Independent Payment).

To get the support itself, you must qualify to apply, and then be assessed meeting a criteria which can take up to three months.

The government said it has halved the waiting time for this and are working to make the service more efficient.

In a statement, the Department for Work & Pensions told Granada Reports that new PIP (Personal Independent Payment) is now taking an average of 13 weeks from initial registration - that was down from 26 weeks in August 2021.

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