DEMOS REPORT: FINANCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF CANCER: PAYING THE PRICE (2013)
An important report on the financial consequences of cancer by Max Wind-Cowie and Jo Salter has been published by DEMOS which is arguably Britain’s leading cross-party think tank (November, 2013: ISBN 978 1 909037 46 5). DEMOS has an open access policy.
This Report builds on earlier research undertaken by the University of Bristol and Macmillan Cancer Support. It concludes that a cancer diagnosis can cost an individual an average of £570 a month. The Report details a basis for this estimation. It argues that this cost can places a huge financial burden on patients and their families and that it is an issue that needs to be addressed.
Several of the Reports recommendations naturally focus on working through and after cancer and on the accommodations that organisations should make for their employees with cancer.
- Requests for flexible working from people experiencing a period of illness that is temporarily preventing them from working should be granted the same legal status as requests from parents and carers. Currently, anyone can apply to work flexibly, but only parents and carers have the legal right to request to do so. DEMOS has in the past called for flexible working to be extended to all employees, making the right to request universal. For people with long-term conditions, this may require some adaptations to the request process, which can currently take up to 6 weeks. Local and national government could set the agenda, including leading by example, setting the benchmark for good, ‘cancer- friendly’ employers.
- Introduce a system of part-time sick leave, similar to the model used in Finland since 2007. Regular conversations between employer and employee about working patterns could also be used as an opportunity to discuss any financial issues.
These recommendations fit easily into the Adaptation – Accommodation Paradigm described by the author here (TC) and his colleagues (Cox, MacLennan & N’Dow, 2014) which has provided the framework for much of their work through the METIS Collaboration.