Fuel costs fears for charity supporting Cork patients with cancer 

Last week saw a record number of people avail of the charity’s transport service, many because of the growing cost of transport.
Fuel costs fears for charity supporting Cork patients with cancer 

The high costs of petrol and diesel are impacting the charity itself, and it is now urging the Government to step in and provide it with financial support.

A CORK organisation transporting cancer patients for chemotherapy recorded its busiest day on record last week amid rising fuel costs.

Cancer Connect in West Cork has been in existence for 11 years with a total of 34,500 cancer patients benefitting from the service to date.

Last week saw a record number of people avail of the charity’s transport service, many because of the growing cost of transport.

The high costs of petrol and diesel are also impacting the charity itself, and it is now urging the Government to step in and provide it with financial support.

Cancer Connect manager Helen O’Driscoll said 120 people signed up for the initiative last week alone — a significant increase on their average weekly figure.

Last Monday saw a total of 28 people avail of the service — the highest daily number in the charity’s history.

“When you look at how busy we are with the rising fuel costs it’s a double whammy,” Ms O’Driscoll said.

“Last Monday we had 28 passengers. I’m nervous to even think about what that day must have cost us.”'

Huge concern for patients 

Ms O’Driscoll spoke of how fuel costs have become a huge concern for cancer patients.

“If someone is going to be travelling to Cork for chemotherapy or radiotherapy on a regular basis then the cost is going to be huge so of course they are going to approach us.

“The people who might have driven themselves before would definitely be availing of our service now.

“Before, the majority who travelled with us did so because they didn’t have access to a car. Now, the cost of transport has become just as much of an issue as the availability.

“Some people might have as many as 35 sessions of radiotherapy and these trips really add up.”

Calls for Government support 

She is calling on the government to step in to provide annual state funding.

“We never means test and will remain free. It would never be right for us to charge a passenger for the service.

“At the moment we aren’t receiving any government funding and are dependent on donations. It’s come to a point where people’s own bills are higher now. You can’t keep pulling money from your own community when the money isn’t there.”

Carpooling is often not an option for the charity.

“We have a vehicle that’s an eight-seater which means we can bring a few for radiotherapy at the same time.

“The problem is that many of our passengers are medically vulnerable which presents a lot of dangers. If someone is vulnerable you can’t put them in the same vehicle as another person.

“The last thing we want to do is put money before the health and welfare of another person. They have to be well enough to travel.”

The charity assists cancer patients struggling to make it to a range of appointments.

It currently has five cars to maintain and supplements diesel and petrol fees for volunteer drivers using their own cars.

Cancer Connect in West Cork is currently seeking new volunteer drivers to drive one day per week. Those interested can contact 021 2038525 or email info@cancerconnect.ie

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