If you visited hospital recently, how did you get there?
Most people drive, use public transport, or rely on the kindness of family and friends to get to their hospital appointments on time. But if you don’t have good access to transport it can mean missing out on health check-ups and routine screenings. It can be even harder if you need to attend regular appointments at a hospital for long-term conditions, such as chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
There are lots of reasons why you might not be able to get to hospital easily for a non-emergency appointment. For example, we often hear from people who are physically unable to travel or can’t afford transport.
What support is available?
If you need help getting to hospital, find out whether you’re eligible for NHS-funded support.
If you can’t travel because of your medical condition
Ask your GP or the person who referred you to hospital whether Patient Transport Services run in your area. These services provide free transport to and from hospital for:
- People whose condition means they need additional medical support during their journey
- People who find it difficult to walk
- Parents or carers of children who are being transported
If you’re travelling on public transport
If you do not receive benefits, but you are having to make frequent trips by public transport, there may ways that can reduce costs.
For students, people with disabilities and those over 60 there are often options for reduced or free travel passes.
- Freedom Pass is a concessionary travel scheme that provides free travel to residents of Greater London who are over 60 or have a disability.
- National Rail offers a range of discounts and concessions for children, people over 60, and people with disabilities.
If you’re visiting hospital regularly
If you’re visiting hospital regularly, you may find that there are options for you to receive discounted cost on parking. For example, some NHS Acute Trusts give out seven day passes for visitors/patients, for example during a maternity stay, where one vehicle that might be responsible for collecting the mother and new baby can have a free or reduced cost pass. This is not, however, offered everywhere.
If you’re driving to hospital, you can check its parking facilities before you go, but please not not all hospitals have updated their information.
You could get a refund on your hospital transport costs
If you’re not eligible for Patient Transport Services, you could claim a refund for the cost of your travel or taking a child to hospital through the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.
You may be able to benefit from the service if:
- You can’t afford the cost of travelling to hospital
- You can’t get a friend or relative to take you
Depending on your situation, and where you live, you can also find voluntary organisations which can help you get to hospital. Richmond Good Neighbours may be able to support you to get transport to a hospital appointment.