Thank you for contacting me recently about hospital transport for young cancer patients and the related campaign by CLIC Sargent.
I sympathise profoundly with anyone who is affected by cancer. Childhood cancer places a deep emotional and physical strain on families and I believe we should be doing all we can to support them at what is an extremely difficult time.
The Labour Party has pledged £5 million a year to create a dedicated Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to cover the costs of travel to and from hospital for cancer treatment for children. This new fund would be delivered centrally, supported by an online application system for families to receive retrospective payments for their travel costs.
Children and young people with cancer often have to travel far for specialist cancer care and this can have a significant financial impact on them and their families. Parents spend an average of £600 in additional expenses every month because of their child’s active cancer treatment and one of the top extra expenses is travel.
CLIC Sargent published a report in September which found that young cancer patients and their families are travelling twice as far and spending twice as much on travel costs as adults with cancer. While support for travel-related costs is available, it is means-tested and many families are unaware of the help that is on offer. Indeed, CLIC Sargent estimates that only 6% of patients receive support under the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).
All children, regardless of background, should have access to the best possible treatment and should be supported every step of the way on their road to recovery. I will press Ministers at every opportunity to bring forward a new Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund to ensure that wealth never stands as a barrier to treatment.
Thank you once again for contacting me about this important issue.