One of the biggest worries people with cancer have is about their finances. On average four in five (83%) cancer patients are hit with an additional cost of £570 a month as a result of their illness, comparable to a monthly mortgage payment. Yet according to Macmillan’s Counting on Your Support Report 2014 95 per cent of cancer patients don’t contact their bank or building society when faced with financial difficulty for fear of not getting any help, or worse, that their diagnosis will have a negative impact on their financial situation. Of those who did make contact over a third (36 per cent) said their provider wasn’t able to offer them support. This is why Macmillan set out nine bold recommendations to the industry to highlight the vital role it can play in easing the financial burden of cancer.
Nationwide were the first to take on board our recommendations and understood the vital need for more frontline support for people affected by cancer. With our support, it set up the first ever Specialist Support Service to help people make informed financial decisions following a cancer diagnosis. At Macmillan we find the best way to ensure and maintain a true working partnership is to form a core project group with representatives from key areas and levels across both organisations.
From April to October this year this group worked tirelessly to pilot the Specialist Support Service across 106 Nationwide branches. This proved a success and at the beginning of October a decision was made by executives from both organisations to roll out the service to all 700 Nationwide branches.
The new service consists of a team of Macmillan-trained Specialist Support Managers who are contacted via a dedicated free-phone number available to all Nationwide customers and members. Anyone affected by cancer that calls the service receives their own dedicated manager, who becomes their main point of contact and has the power to assess and discuss options and products. By working with a customer to understand their needs, the manager can make product or service changes to ensure the best possible outcome for the customer – be that short term solutions or longer-term financial planning.
As the UK’s largest cancer support charity Macmillan wants to be there for everyone affected by cancer. However, with 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK today, and this number set to rise to 4 million by 2030 we simply cannot do this alone. This is why Macmillan believes in working with businesses to help deliver solutions to meet the needs of people living with cancer, by utilising both organisations expertise and channels to change lives together.
Following the successful launch of the Nationwide service, Macmillan is now looking to work with other financial organisations to identify ways in which they can better support people affected by cancer, through changes to their products, services or working practices. By doing this Macmillan’s aim is to deliver practical solutions so these organisations are able to help people mitigate the financial impact of cancer, and ensure that one has to face the financial burdens that a cancer diagnosis can cause, alone.