Cancer patients forced to cut back on food to pay hefty prescription charges

Nearly half of cancer patients in England are being forced to cut back on basic needs such as food or heating, in order to pay for their prescriptions, a survey by Macmillan Cancer Support has found.


The survey also shows that nearly two thirds of cancer patients are missing out on simple leisure activities, like family days out, because they are struggling to cope with the added cost of multiple prescriptions – often over long periods of time.


The results come more than a year after the Government promised to review the prescription charges system in England, which currently only gives medical exemptions to some illnesses.

Ciarán Devane, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:


‘It’s appalling that cancer patients in England are forced to cut back on basic necessities like food to pay for their urgently-needed medication. People must never be forced to choose between food or medication. The Government must act now. Patients should be allowed to focus on getting better instead of worrying how they’re going to find money for prescriptions.’


Cancer patients often need multiple prescriptions to ease distressing side effects of cancer treatment like nausea, fatigue, severe mouth ulcers, and debilitating diarrhoea and can spend hundreds of pounds each year paying for prescriptions.


Amanda from Surrey, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last September, said:


‘My treatment’s over but I’m still struggling. I’m now on statutory sick pay because I’ve been too unwell to work and quite frankly, have barely enough money to live on. I’ve had to adjust my lifestyle to cope with the cancer – a better diet, more heating, lots of prescriptions – and when you add it all up it’s expensive. Fighting cancer is hard enough without the terrible financial worry that comes with it.’


Macmillan believes prescription charges are a tax on illness and should be abolished in England.


To join Macmillan’s campaign visit



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