In that time, the Macmillan Welfare Rights Service has supported thousands of cancer patients and their carers to access specialist financial advice and to navigate the complex benefits system – collectively helping them to claim over £25 million in the process.
The service was originally piloted in 2009 with one Welfare Rights Officer working one day a week at New Cross Hospital. Macmillan Cancer Support took over funding from the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust in July 2010 and grew the service in partnership with the Welfare Rights Service.
The service is accessed through both the Macmillan Information and Support Centre at New Cross and the Hamar Centre at The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, with a 7 strong team on hand to provide much needed support to patients who are attending clinical appointments.
Caroline Morris, Macmillan Welfare Rights Unit Manager, said: “Each and every year we see an increasing number of patients and their families using our service.
“The help provided allows people to concentrate on their treatment and recovery rather than spending time worrying about their finances.
“We apply for grants and give specialist benefits advice, not only to the person affected by cancer but also their families and their carers as well.
“Many people aren’t aware of the financial help that is available and even then, can’t always face the form filling and dealing with benefits administering authorities. That’s where we help; we support people to access what they’re entitled to.”
Jo Judges, Head of Services for Macmillan in the West Midlands, said: “Cancer can affect every part of your life, not just your health.
“4 out of 5 people living with cancer experience a financial impact. The average is £570 a month. By securing a significant amount of money for people in Wolverhampton and Shropshire living with cancer over the last 10 years, the team have helped them cope with the huge financial pressures caused by cancer, giving people the much needed support they deserve from the moment they are diagnosed.”
Tracey Weetman, Lead Cancer Nurse for New Cross Hospital, said: “Without this service patients would have to navigate the benefits system alone or look elsewhere for support.
“We find it so helpful that Welfare Rights Officers are based in the hospital and we know our patients will get help and advice within days of being referred.”
Jessica Greenwood, Lead Cancer Nurse for Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital added: “We very much appreciate this service that Macmillan Cancer Support and the City of Wolverhampton Council provide.
“Our specialist nurses and consultants refer their patients directly to the service knowing that they will get advice and support regarding their finances. We know from what our patients tell us that money and how they will cope if they are unable to work is a huge worry for them.”
Carole and John Hawkwood are among those who have received support. Carole said: “We do not have an expression strong enough to tell you how we appreciate the help and support you have given to my husband and I who are both receiving treatment for cancer. This has given us an inner strength and we have felt greatly supported.”
Councillor Linda Leach, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults, said: “The team of advisors based at New Cross Hospital and The Royal Shrewsbury Hospital provide a complete and holistic service, serving local people at a time when they don’t want to be worrying about money.
“What they’ve achieved to date for people affected by cancer and the local community is outstanding, and I would like to thank them for all they have done.”
Image 1: Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Saria Razaq, Macmillan Benefits Support Worker Lorna Crawford, Macmillan Welfare Rights Unit Manager Caroline Morris, Advanced Nurse Practitioner Kelly Kusinski, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services Councillor Linda Leach, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Samantha Christie-Allen, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Jackie Machado and, back, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Satinder Randhawa
Image 2: Macmillan Benefits Support Worker Lorna Crawford, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Saria Razaq, Macmillan Welfare Rights Unit Manager Caroline Morris, Advanced Nurse Practitioner Kelly Kusinski, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Services Councillor Linda Leach, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Samantha Christie-Allen, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Jackie Machado and, back, Macmillan Welfare Rights Officer Satinder Randhawa