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Another success at the Support Hub

“Yesterday a patient won an appeal which will mean a backpayment of £9,000 and income of nearly £150 a week from now on.”

This is only the latest in a string of successes that Cristin O’Leary and her colleagues in the charity’s support hub at the Royal Free Hospital have had while helping patients with long-term conditions to access the benefits to which they are entitled.

The advice and advocacy service they provide was set up by the charity in April last year and has helped almost 400 patients since then.

“We’ve been very struck by the need,” said Cristin. “There seems to be a real shortage of advice out in the community because of cuts in services or the inability of people to access what’s there.”

The support hub, which has two full-time and one part-time worker advising patients, can not only tell patients the benefits they are likely to be eligible for but can also fight appeals for them when they’ve been refused help. “Because the appeal process takes so long the amount they are owed if they’re finally successful can really mount up. And then of course they have new regular income after that.”

Although many hospitals provide benefits advice to patients with cancer, Cristin believes the Royal Free may be the first to include the service for this wider range of patients.

“The idea came from a series of discussions with patients about what they needed and it really suits my values that this initiative was patient led. I also love working with patients and think that because we are able to help them so directly we are able to provide a great face for the charity.”

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