Travel costs support

You will probably need to travel for treatment and this could be miles from home. These distances can be really hard to deal with when you aren’t feeling great, so it’s really important that you claim extra support to remove some of this stress.

Travel costs support

First steps

The first thing to do is speak to the team at your hospital to find out whether you can benefit from ‘shared care’. This means that you could visit hospitals closer to your home for some aspects of your care. Some hospitals also run their own transport schemes.

You could also think about staying at a Home from Home near your treatment centre – free accommodation provided by CLIC Sargent. 

Get financial support if you're on a low income

If you are receiving one of the qualifying benefits, or have been named on an NHS Low Income Scheme certificate, you may be entitled to help.

The Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme provides refunds for travelling and parking for treatment or some tests – so make sure you keep your receipts! 

Some services may not be included (for example, out of hour appointments, routine check-ups or screening).

What could I receive help with?

You will be reimbursed for ‘reasonable travel costs’. This could be the cost of your petrol, car parking, toll charges, or public transport. 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 with the Congestion Charge NHS Reimbursement Scheme

In most cases, you will be able to claim up to three months after the date you travel. It's also possible to claim advance payments to help you attend appointments.

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.

Limit your parking costs

Travel costs and parking charges can add to the financial strain during cancer treatment. 

The good news for patients in Scotland and Wales is that most parking charges have been abolished and in Northern Ireland parking is free for chemotherapy and radiotherapy patients. 

However, in England you may still be charged and each hospital will set its own rate. If this is the case, make sure you:

  1. Check with your Patient Liaison Service (PALS) whether your hospital has any parking concession schemes
  2. Check whether you are eligible for the Blue Badge Parking Permit. Some hospitals will provide reduced or free parking for holders
  3. If you are on a low income, see the above information about the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.

Lease a new vehicle

The Motability Scheme allows you to exchange your mobility allowance for leasing a new car, scooter or powered wheelchair.

The scheme, which is run by the national charity Motability, is available for anyone who receives:

The lease will include insurance, servicing, maintenance, breakdown assistance and up to two named drivers for your car. This means that even if you don’t drive, a parent, carer or partner can use the vehicle to help enable you. 

As well as running the scheme, the charity also provides charitable grants to those most in need.

Vehicle tax exemption or reduction

If you are receiving the higher or enhanced rate mobility components of DLA or PIP, then you won't have to pay vehicle tax.

You can also get a 50% reduction if you get the standard rate mobility component of PIP.

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).

Travelling abroad for treatment

If you have been approved to travel abroad for high-energy proton beam therapy the NHS will fund your transport and accommodation. The NHS will also cover the costs of car hire, petrol and taxis if necessary when travelling to Switzerland or the USA. However, you will need to pay for food, days out or phone calls.

CLIC Sargent can also provide a financial grant for those travelling abroad for proton beam therapy.

Where next?

Updated July 2017, next review due 2018.