The cost of cancer

Martha Elliott-Smith (Student)

The cost of cancer in the UK is now estimated to be £15.8 billion, a study by Oxford University suggests. The total apportions around £7.6 billion in economic costs and £2.6 billion for unpaid care, with one researcher commenting that; ‘time off work and unpaid care by friends and family account for 64% of all cancer costs’.

These figures highlight not only the impact on professional healthcare providers but the potential loss of earnings for patients and to those close to them who give up work in order to provide care.

New data released by Cancer Research UK now estimates that one in two people will develop cancer at some stage in their lifetime.

These figures can be highlighted locally in the September 2018 report published by Cancer Research UK on data collected from NHS North Staffordshire and NHS Stoke-on-Trent. This shows that there are around 1,300 cancer cases per year in the Staffordshire region.

Talking about your cancer diagnosis may be difficult, especially to your employer. Many people fear they will be dismissed if they ask for help and support during their treatment. 

What rights do I have as an employee?

Richard Pugh, head of services for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said that with more people receiving a cancer diagnosis, ‘returning to work is not a luxury but a basic necessity’ for people.

Cancer patients may be protected by the Equality Act 2010. This means that employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure that the employee is not at a disadvantage in their employment for a reason related to their disability (in this case their cancer). Reasonable adjustments could include allowing the employee time off work, which would allow them to attend hospital appointments for treatment. It could also include flexible working arrangements which would allow some employees to work from home. Much will depend upon the nature and size of the employer’s business.

Many terminally ill people find themselves in situations where access to justice has been greatly reduced due to the affordability of advice. Therefore, clinics like SULAC are essential.

Staffordshire University operates a legal Advice Clinic (SULAC) offering free legal advice to the public. At SULAC we can advise you on various matters, including employment, family and consumer protection.

SULAC does not provide advice on criminal or immigration matters or provide debt counselling.

We currently operate free clinics at the Dudson Centre on Mondays and Signpost Stafford on a Tuesday. We also offer a priority service to cancer patients via Macmillan Cancer Support.

If you would like any further information or would like to book an appointment, please call: 01782 294800.


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