If your income has been reduced or you are unable to work and struggling to meet the costs of travelling to hospital or other NHS-funded treatment, you may be entitled to receive help from the government.
With only a small number of principal treatment centres specialising in treating children and young people, it could be that you are treated in a hospital hundreds of miles from home, which means you may need to travel long distances.
Speak to your hospital care team to find out if you are able to benefit from 'shared care' arrangements, where some aspects of care are delivered by hospitals closer to your home. Some hospitals will also run their own transport schemes, so this is dependent on where you live.
Travel costs and parking charges can add significantly to the added financial strain you may be going under during cancer treatment. For patients in Scotland and Wales parking charges have been abolished and in Northern Ireland parking is free for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients. However, in England you will still be charged and each hospital will set their own rates.
Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme
The rules on receiving support with the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme will depend on you receiving one of the qualifying benefits and will be subject to various conditions.
Some services may not be included (for example, out of hour appointments, routine check-ups or screening).
What could I receive help with?
If you qualify for help with your travel costs then you may be reimbursed the estimated cost of your petrol, plus car parking, toll charges, or public transport if you choose to travel this way. In most cases you will be able to claim up to three months after the date you travel.
If you need to use a taxi for transport, it's best to check with the care team if you are able to claim this back.
Patients in London may be able to claim congestion charges back, this includes Blue Badge holders or vehicles used by people who are exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty. Contact Transport for London to find out more about the Congestion Charge NHS reimbursement scheme.
How do I apply?
You will need to be referred by your doctor in order to receive help from this scheme. For more information read the NHS HC11 leaflet on health costs. You can also get help from the Help with Health Costs team via their Facebook page on Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm.
If you have to make adaptations or repairs to your car or you need to buy a new car altogether, you may be able to receive financial help from the Motability scheme.
The scheme, which is run by the national charity Motability, is available for anyone who receives the higher rate mobility component (HRMC) of the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
It may be that your parents or guardians can order a car on your behalf if you're receiving the HRMC of DLA.
Motability includes insurance, servicing, maintenance and two named drivers for your car.
Tax Disc Exemption
If you are receiving the HRMC of DLA then you won't have to pay for a vehicle tax disc.
The car you drive must be registered in your name or your nominated driver's name and must only be used for your own needs (not the needs of your driver).
Other financial help
You may also be eligible for concessions delivered by your local council. Find out more in Travelling for less.
Updated August 2016, next review due 2017.