You may be able to get financial help from the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme if you are on a low income, need NHS treatment at a hospital, other NHS centre or private clinic, and have been referred by an NHS consultant, doctor or dentist.
Who can claim?
You are automatically entitled to claim the cost of your travel from the scheme if you (or those you depend on) get at least one of the following:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
You also qualify if your yearly income is £15,276 or less and you also get one of the following:
- Child Tax Credit (with or without Working Tax Credit)
- Working Tax Credit (with the disability element or severe disability element)
If another adult or your dependent child has to travel to your treatment with you for medical reasons and this is agreed by your consultant, you can claim their travel costs too.
If you are on a low income but do not get any of these benefits or allowances, you may still claim travel costs through the NHS Low Income Support Scheme – more information below.
How much do you get?
If you are on entitled benefits or allowances, no matter which form of transport you use, you will get back the full travel costs calculated at the public transport rate, including any concessions or promotions.
If for example, you use a private car, you can claim for petrol (and car parking charges where unavoidable) up to the cost of the same journey by public transport. The hospital should tell you the mileage rate for petrol costs for private transport.
The rate is currently 15p per mile.
If public transport is unavailable or impractical, (perhaps you cannot get to your appointment on time or your mobility is restricted), you will need to contact the hospital well before your appointment. They will need to check that your new travel arrangements are allowed. See below for contact details.
If you are on the NHS Low Income Scheme you may get back all or some of your travel costs depending on which certificate you have been given.
How to claim
You can claim at the NHS hospital or clinic at the time of your appointment. You will be paid back immediately in cash or within one month of the date of appointment, when you show any of the following:
- Proof of a qualifying benefit – Income support, Pension Credit. Jobseekers Allowance, Home Office approval of refugee status.
- A tax credit exemption certificate (you will get this automatically if you qualify). This takes the form of a white credit-card type voucher.
- A certificate showing you qualify for the NHS Low Income Support Scheme
- Together with an attendance slip from the clinic attended
You may be able to claim some costs in advance – contact the hospital for more information (eg if you are about commence a programme of daily or weekly visits, with or without an escort).
The NHS Low Income Support Scheme
To apply for the NHS Low Income Support Scheme you will need to fill in form HC1.
You can order form HC1 online www.ppa.org.uk/ppa/HC1_form.htm or by phone: call the NHS Patient Services helpline on 0845 850 1166 (8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Monday to Friday - calls are charged at the local rate), or get it from
- NHS hospitals
- Jobcentre Plus offices
- Some GP surgeries, dentists and opticians
Your form will be assessed by the Prescription Pricing Authority and if you are entitled you will get a certificate that confirms whether you receive full or partial help with your hospital travel costs.
What else you need to know
You can claim help with travel costs up to three months after your appointment, as long as you can prove you were eligible to claim at the time of your treatment. To do this, you will need to fill in a refund claim form (HC5), which you can get by going to any of the following:
- NHS hospitals main reception areas
- Jobcentre Plus offices
- The NHS Patient Services helpline on 0845 850 1166 (8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Monday to Friday - calls are charged at the local rate)
The following people will be able to provide you with information on your claim.
- Ealing Hospital - 020 8967 5000
- Central Middlesex Hospital - 020 8453 2146 / 2158
- Northwick Park Hospital - 020 8869 2662 / 2147
- St Mark’s Hospital - 020 8235 4003 / 4051