If you don't live near to where you're being treated you may have high travel costs, and you may be eligible to receive help with travel costs or specific vehicle needs.
Travelling by car
If you're able to drive, or you have someone who can take you to and from hospital, you or your family will need to cover the costs of petrol as well as car parking charges.
You may also need to adapt your car, or need a new car altogether. On top of this there is the cost of maintenance and insurance.
If you're visiting a hospital for more than seven days in a row, or are there for continuous treatment, you may be able to get a car park discount voucher.
Car parking charges are free for patients who are disabled badge holders. In some cases parking will be free of charge for cancer patients, patients who are receiving certain benefits (for example, holders of HC2 or HC3 forms) or families of inpatients who have been in hospital for a number of weeks.
You will need to speak to someone at the hospital reception to find out what the rules are – discounts are often at the discretion of the hospital or department.
If you own a Blue Badge you will generally be able to park for free. Details of the scheme differ depending on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
Cutting down the cost of travel
By being careful with your money you could end up saving yourself hundreds of pounds a year:
- Compare quotes for car insurance before you accept your renewal policy. Don't presume that third-party insurance will be cheaper, fully comprehensive policies may actually come in at less
- If you haven't made any claims on your insurance, don't forget to tell your insurer about your no-claims bonus, or take steps to protect it if you haven't already - this will help keep your premium down
- If you can, pay your insurance annually rather than monthly - you will be charged less if you pay it as one lump sum
- Look out for offers on petrol and use loyalty schemes to get money back on fuel
- Compare the price of petrol in your area and avoid the more expensive petrol stations
- If you've received a car parking fine, make sure it's valid before you go ahead and pay for it by checking that the firm that issued the fine is a member of the British Parking Association’s Approved Operator Scheme. It's a good idea to make the payment as quickly as you can, as it will usually be half the cost if you pay within a certain amount of time
- If you need to buy a new car, choose a vehicle with a low tax band and find out how tax efficient it is. For example, Band A cars are not subject to any car tax and could also save you money through lower fuel costs.
Travelling by public transport
When you're going through treatment for cancer your immune system is likely to be lowered. You may be advised to avoid public transport to reduce your risk of picking up infections (particularly during rush hour). If you're unsure, check with your hospital team.
However, if you do choose to travel by public transport, you may be entitled to certain concessions. Even though you may not think of yourself as disabled because of your illness, it's worth knowing that the Equality Act (formerly the Disability Discrimination Act) classes cancer a disability.
Disabled persons bus pass or railcard
If you're able to travel on public transport and you qualify for a disabled person's railcard, (for example, you are receiving Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or you are buying or leasing a vehicle through the Motability scheme) then it could save you a third off most rail fares in Great Britain.
If you travel with an adult companion, then they can also get a third off their rail fare.
If you are between the ages of 16 and 25 you can save a third off your rail fares with the 16 to 25 Railcard.
Residents in Northern Ireland
The Disabled Persons Railcard can only be used in England, Scotland and Wales. However, residents of Northern Ireland who are eligible to receive UK benefits can still apply for the railcard to use when they travel in Great Britain.
Visit the Translink website to find out what concessionary travel schemes are available in Ireland.
Concessionary bus travel
There are different schemes available for each part of the United Kingdom. In some cases a companion is able to travel with you for free, so check with your local authority.
- England - free bus travel for people with disabilities on GOV.UK
- Northern Ireland - free bus travel and concessions on nidirect
- Scotland - older and disabled person's scheme on Transport Scotland
- Wales - concessionary bus fares for the elderly and disabled on the Welsh Government website.
Extra support with travel costs
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. Take a look at our Support with travel costs page to see what you may be entitled to.
Updated August 2016, next review due 2017.