A guide to the help available with fares and travel expenses when visiting hospital or treatment centres
You may be able to get help with fares or other travel expenses for yourself (and for someone who has to go with you if you are incapable of getting to the hospital or treatment centre on your own) If you are either exempt from NHS charges or qualify for full help with them. Help is also available if you are covered by the low income scheme. If your income is above the low-income level but would fall below it if you paid the fares, you may still be eligible for help with part of the cost. Help with fares or other travel expenses is also available if :
1. live in the Isles of Scilly and need to travel to a mainland hospital ; or 2. live in the Scottish Islands or Highlands and need to travel to a mainland hospital; or 3. are getting NHS treatment abroad.
if your child has to go into hospital or attend on a regular basis, you may claim help with travel expenses to accompany your child to and from hospital.
Inpatients sent home on short leave:
If you are sent home as part of your treatment or for the hospital’s convenience your fares are regarded as part of your treatment costs and should be met by the hospital and not under the hospital travel expenses means-tested scheme.
What travel expenses can be covered?
The law allows help with the cost of traveling by the cheapest means of transport which is reasonable having regard to your age, medical condition and any other relevant circumstances, which normally means the cost of standard-class public transport. If public transport is available but you choose to go by car, your fuel costs may only be covered up to the amount of the standard-class fare. However, if you are unable to use public transport because of a physical disability or it is not available, and you go by car or taxi, your fuel costs or fares will be covered. You must get agreement first from the hospital for the use of taxis. The travel costs of an escort can also be met if you need to be accompanied for medical reasons.
If you are travelling overseas for NHS treatment you are covered under the same rules, subject to the health authority’s agreement to the mode of transport.
How to claim the cost of fares
The hospital will refund your fares if you produce proof of your entitlement (eg your benefit award letter or tax credit exemption certificate). If you have already claimed on low-income grounds, show your HC2 certificate (full entitlement) or your HC3 certificate (partial entitlement ).
If you haven’t yet claimed on low-income grounds, use form HC5(T) to claim a refund, and form HC1 to establish your entitlement to full or partial help. The form can be obtained by ringing the NHS forms-line (0845 610 1112). Ask the hospital to fill in their part of the HC5(T), then fill in the rest of the HC5(T) and the HC1 and send both forms to the address given on the forms. The HC5(T) must be returned within three months of paying your fares.
Partial help with fares
The amount shown on an HC3 certificate for partial help is the amount you are expected to be able to pay for travel expenses in any one week (from Sunday to the following Saturday). If your actual hospital travel expenses in any particular week covered by that HC3 certificate are higher, the excess is refunded. This helps if you have to travel long distances to hospital or if you have to make several visits to the same, or to different, hospitals within the same week. Ask the hospitals fares office for details of the arrangements for dealing with several visits within the same week.
Other possible sources of help with travel expenses for patients and visitors, include hospital endowment funds, education departments, social services departments, the family fund and various charities. For advice about these, contact a hospital social worker or an advice centre. Further information is available on the Department of Health website (www.dh.gov.uk).
Visitors hospital fares
If you are on income-related employment and support allowance, income support, income-based jobseeker’s allowance or pension credit, you may be able to get a community care grant from the social fund to assist you or a member of your family with travel expenses in the UK (including overnight accommodation charges).
If you attend hospital for your war disablement you can claim for expenses regardless of your income. Write to the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency, Norcoss, Thornton-Cleveley’s FY5 3WP