Calls for a vital fund to be created to support children and young people with cancer have been made by Natasha Asghar MS.
The South East Wales politician urged First Minister Mark Drakeford to look at setting up a Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund during a Welsh Parliament session today (Oct 3).
Children and young people in Wales battling cancer are forced to travel great lengths and spend a fortune to receive treatment at specialist centres.
On average, families in Wales are forced to travel 534 miles a month and are spending nearly £300 a month.
Many families, Natasha has been told, are having to cut back on essentials such as food in a bid to meet the costs of receiving treatment.
Natasha Asghar MS told the First Minister today: “I am sure you will agree with me that nobody with cancer should be forced to travel hundreds of miles, nor spend hundreds of pounds, just to receive vital treatment.
“The sums of money needed in setting a fund like this up in Wales is around £500,000.
“I am sure you will agree that £500,000 is minimal when compared to the vast amounts of cash the Welsh Government is spending out on other projects.
“So, First Minister, will you commit to looking into creating a fund to support children with cancer and their families who are going through the unthinkable?”
The First Minister ignored calls to explore setting up a new Young Cancer Patient Travel Fund but said the Health Minister has asked the Welsh ambulance service to look into the non-emergency patient journeys it offers to give the Welsh Government “better information to continue to explore some of the issues” Natasha raised.
Speaking outside the chamber, Natasha Asghar MS said:
“The last thing families need when they are facing truly awful circumstances such as a cancer diagnosis is worrying about money to access treatment.
“From what I’ve been told the price tag involved in creating a travel fund for cancer patients is a drop in the ocean compared to sums the Welsh Government is spending elsewhere, but the impact this fund will have on families will be invaluable.
“Despite the First Minister’s apparent reluctance to look into this fund, I will continue to push the Welsh Government on this matter.”