A large number of children and young people with cancer don't live close to their hospital or principal treatment centre, which can mean high travel costs.
If you're able to drive you will need to cover the costs of petrol as well as car parking charges at the hospital. You may also need to adapt your car, or need a new car altogether. On top of this there is the cost of annual MOTs, services, repairs, insurance and breakdown cover to pay for.
You may be eligible to receive help with travel costs or specific vehicle needs.
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.
In some cases parking will be free of charge for cancer patients, patients who are receiving certain benefits 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 hundred of pounds a year. Check out the following tips:
- 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.
- 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 your child is going through treatment for cancer their immune system is likely to be lowered. You may be advised to avoid public transport to reduce their risk of picking up infections (particularly during rush hour).
Speak to your child's care team if you're in any doubt.
Disability and cancer
Even though you may not think of your child as disabled because of their 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 your child qualifies for a disabled person's railcard, (for example, they 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 they travel with an adult companion (for example you), then they can also get a third off your 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 for 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.
Updated July 2016, next review due 2017.