Suffolk couple refused travel expenses help for cancer appointments ‘because of 10-year stay in Greece’

Carol Ann and Peter Turner. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL

Carol Ann and Peter Turner. Picture: GEMMA MITCHELL - Credit: Archant

A Suffolk couple say they have been made to feel like “foreigners in our own country” after they were refused financial support to cover the cost of travel to hospital appointments.

Carol Ann and Peter Turner came back to the UK in January having emigrated to Crete for 10 years for “a bit of sun and sand” during their retirement, but not long after they returned Mrs Turner was diagnosed with breast cancer.

At the start of June, Mrs Turner, 68, spent five days at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford to undergo a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, with her husband making the 164-mile round trip from their home in Kessingland to visit her on most days.

Now Mrs Turner is booked for a 15-day course of radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital in July, with no overnight stays.

The pair, who both receive a state pension, had a meeting with the Macmillan Cancer Support charity team at Ipswich Hospital to discuss the possibly of getting help with the petrol bill through its grant scheme, but they claim they were told they are not eligible because they have not been in the UK for three years straight.

Mr Turner, 78, said they had both lived in Suffolk for their entire lives apart from the decade abroad, when they had continued to pay UK taxes.

“We are a proper Suffolk boy and girl,” Mr Turner added. “It doesn’t seem fair to me.

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“I’m not asking for a fortune but I worked for 50 years, I started working when I was 14-and-a-half and I worked all my life. I put into the pot and when I needed a little bit out I couldn’t get any. We are being treated like foreigners in our own country.”

Mrs Turner added: “We came back to England because we were getting on a bit. Then all this happened and that hurts thinking we will get help and they say no.”

A spokeswoman for Macmillan Cancer Support said she could not comment on individual cases due to confidentiality.

She added: “Travel costs are one of the added pressures people face because of a cancer diagnosis along with higher heating costs, additional costs of a special diet, child care. Some people even have to stop working.

“Macmillan is working in partnership with Suffolk County Council to offer a range of support for people to help minimise these financial worries. We are currently working in a number of hospitals across the East of England.

“We do everything we can to help individuals financially through our Macmillan grants, but unfortunately we cannot afford to help everyone.”

The couple stayed with Mr Turner’s sister in Ipswich when they first landed from Greece and they moved into a home in Kessingland in May.