Most people drive, use public transport, or rely on the kindness of family and friends to get to the doctor, pharmacist, or hospital on time. But, if you don’t have good access to transport, it can mean that you’re late or end up missing your appointment. 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 NHS services easily for non-emergency issues. For example, you might be physically unable to travel, or unable to afford transport.
Here, we provide some information about the support available to help make this easier for you.
What support is available?
If you need help getting to appointments, find out whether you’re eligible for NHS-funded support.
If you can’t travel to hospital because of your medical condition
Ask your GP or the person who referred you about Patient Transport Services. 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 be weekly or monthly season tickets that can reduce costs, or options such as booking tickets online, which may work out cheaper than the full cost of one ticket.
For students, people with disabilities and those over 65 there are often options for reduced or free travel passes.
- In London you can apply for a Freedom Pass, which is a bus pass that allows you to travel free of charge if you are over 65.
- National Rail offers a range of discounts and concessions for children, people over 60, and people with disabilities.
- Islington Council website has details on how to apply for disabled bus travel passes. These can sometimes be also to include a companion traveller, depending on disability and mental capacity for independent travel.
If you have severe disabilities that make it difficult for you to use public transport, you may be eligible for a Taxicard. It gives you subsidised travel in London taxis.
The Travel for London website provides guidance and resources for accessible travel.
Could you get a refund for 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. The scheme can also cover the costs of your travel to a GP or dental appointment if the appointment is one for which you needed a referral.
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