The fund was used to support cancer patients who face financial hardship as a result of their cancer diagnosis. Since 2008, demand of the Financial Support programme grew considerably and in 2015 the Society gave €1.8 million to patients who were facing financial hardship.
In a statement the Society said they regret having to close the fund but said the demand has become too big for them to manage.
“As a charity, which is funded over 90% by the public, we have found ourselves unable to meet the huge growth in demand for Financial Support from cancer patients.”
The Society also funds cancer research, provides cancer information and support, a free palliative night nursing service, as well as a whole range of activities to support cancer patients.
The Society added, “Closing the Financial Support Programme was a difficult choice to make, but against the background of a drop in fundraised income in 2015, we were forced to choose between the free and unique services which we provide to patients, and the Financial Support fund, demand for which was growing at a rate which could have put our free services at risk.
“We continue to strongly support cancer patients, both adults and children, who are struggling financially as a result of their cancer diagnosis, through providing advice and information on the range of Government and voluntary schemes which they can access. We know the real cost of cancer and we are highlighting this issue so that the Government and the HSE will respond adequately. At the end of last year, we carried out an in-depth survey called ‘The Real Cost of Cancer’ which shows that cancer patients and their families can face serious financial pressure while they are going through their treatment.
“It is not possible for the Irish Cancer Society alone to alleviate this financial burden which a cancer diagnosis brings.”
As a result of the findings of this survey, the Society is taking on an advocacy campaign to have cancer patients have immediate access to a medical card once to diagnosed; to lobby hospitals treating cancer patients for free parking for them and their families; to reduce the Drugs Payment Scheme limit to €85 from €114 and to have Community Welfare Officers recognise the catastrophic impact on self-employed patients of a cancer diagnosis and to ensure they are financially supported.