HAMPSHIRE cancer patients fighting for survival are also having to battle to pay their bills, it has been revealed today.

Latest figures released by Macmillan Cancer Support show that hundreds of cancer sufferers in the county ended the year struggling to cope with their fuel bills, forced to rely on grants from the charity.

More than £100,000 was paid out in grants by the charity to 396 cancer sufferers fighting the devastating disease who had no choice but to seek help to pay the bills. Of those, more than 41 per cent needed the cash to help towards heating bills – a total of £24,503.

The news comes right in the middle of the recent snowy weather and just weeks after almost all major energy suppliers hiked their bills by an average of eight per cent.

Now the charity is urging Hampshire residents to dig deep and donate to help those who should be focused on fighting the disease, not fuel bills.

These figures back up recent Macmillan research showing that about 27,000 cancer patients in the UK could be behind with paying their fuel bills and owe their fuel providers as much as £2.8m in overdue payments.

Fuel bills often rise because cancer patients are spending more time at home and often feel colder because of their illness.

David Crosby, from Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “While most of us were enjoying the festive period, cancer patients were clearly in desperate need of financial support.

“These figures and our recent research show just how much of a problem keeping up with fuel bills is for cancer patients – especially as the weather is set to get colder. Cancer patients need to put their energy into getting better. Instead many are living in cold homes anxious about how they’re going to cope with rocketing fuel bills.”

If you are worried about paying your fuel bills or need other financial advice, such as whether or not you qualify for the npower Fuel Management Programme, call 0808 808 00 00.

To make a donation call 0300 1000 200.