Cancer Charity Teams Up With Bank to Improve Patient Support

Liam Davenport

August 02, 2017

Cancer patients in the United Kingdom who are facing financial problems as a result of their diagnosis can now telephone their bank for support, which can include a break from mortgage payments and the refunding of bank charges, thanks to a partnership between a leading cancer charity and a retail bank.

Recent figures have suggested that more than 80% of UK cancer patients spend an average of £570 ($750) per month following their diagnosis, with 33% having to stop work either temporarily or permanently, and 85% facing additional costs, such as costs of travel to and from the hospital and an increase in heating bills.

Through the current initiative, which was announced on July 31, cancer patients who ask the charity Macmillan Cancer Support for financial assistance can be referred to a dedicated support team if they are customers of Lloyds Bank, which will then offer practical advice and help with financial management.

To help alleviate the worry that cancer patients can have about their finances following diagnosis, Macmillan worked with Lloyds Bank to develop a bespoke service for their clients to help them manage their money.

They trained a dedicated cancer support team at the bank to understand the financial impact of a cancer diagnosis, which ranges from loss of income to an increase in everyday costs, such as those for transport to and from healthcare appointments.

Specifically, the team can help patients assess and manage changes to their finances throughout the patient journey, as well as offer practical guidance on personal banking, savings, loans, mortgage payments, and credit cards.

The bank says that depending on an individual’s circumstances, they may also be able to offer patients "payment holidays" from their mortgages, as well as refund charges and fees on checking accounts.

Lee Jones, who runs the Lloyds Bank team in South Wales, was quoted by the BBC as saying: "We can give them a three-month holiday break on loan payments; mortgage payments similarly. In some cases, we can elongate that to six or 12 months."

Because the Halifax bank and the Bank of Scotland are part of the Lloyds Bank group, patients banking with them will also be eligible for the service, which will cover approximately 30 million customers.

So far, the Nationwide Building Society, which is much smaller than Lloyds, is the only other UK bank to have offered a similar service, including the refunding of charges and the granting of payment holidays.

Since launching their service 2 years ago, Nationwide has helped almost 2000 cancer patients and their carers, typically with regard to their extra travel expenses and the financial consequences of having to give up work.

Mandy Griffin, director of membership at Nationwide, told the BBC: "With cancer, we are often looking at short-term measures to try and get people through a particular period of treatment.

"It could be they're having chemotherapy; it could be they are unable to work for a period; so a payment holiday is ideal in those circumstances."

Banks Could Do Even More

While welcoming the above initiatives, Macmillan believes that the banking industry could do more to support cancer patients, and has called on the UK Financial Conduct Authority to impose a "duty of care" on banks.

Fran Woodard, DProf, an executive director at Macmillan, told the BBC: "I'd like to see the whole banking sector take a look at the work we're doing with Lloyds and Nationwide and actually see the difference that it is making, day in and day out, to vulnerable customers."

Although UK Finance, which represents retail banks, said that its members respond to the circumstances of individual patients, so far, no other financial institution has followed the lead of Lloyds and Nationwide.

Macmillan Cancer Support. Our Partnership With Lloyds Bank website.

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