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Travel costs

Assistance with healthcare travel costs for patients

Patients on low incomes or receiving benefits may be eligible to receive financial support for travel costs to or from hospital.

The latest Healthcare Travel cost scheme HTCS, published by the Department of Health in May 2010, lays out the details of how and when financial support is provided to those on low incomes who need to travel to or from an NHS hospital site in order to receive treatment.

Key points are as follows (please click on to the attached document above, for full guidance):-

For a travel costs to be eligible for reimbursement through the HTCS they must:

  • Be incurred getting to Hospital for a diagnostic test or for treatment following a referral by a doctor or dentist
  • Not be for the same journey as the appointment where the referral was made
  • Be for treatment paid for by the NHS, regardless of whether it carried out by an NHS care professional or an independent one

Carers/escorts: If the patient's referring consultant, GP or another health care professional involved in the patient's care, state that it is medically necessary for a carer or escort to travel with the patient, the travelling expenses of the escort may also be claimed as part of the patient's travel expenses. This applies also for those escorting children under the age of 16.

HTCS does not apply in the following cases:

  • Transport of patients with a medical need for ambulance transport
  • Patients being transferred between treatment centres
  • Patients who discharge themselves from hospital at their own request
  • Visitors to patients in hospital
  • Private patients - HTCS support cannot be provided to private patients
  • Overnight stay costs
  • Parents requiring overnight stays - The benefits of encouraging parents to stay overnight with their children in hospital are now generally accepted and most children's departments provide facilities for parents to sleep on the ward. No charge should be made for these facilities

When presenting a claim for support with travel expenses please ensure that you provide proof of entitlement/benefit, for example documentation confirming receipt of income support, job seekers allowance etc.

Travel expenses may be claimed in person from the Cashiers Office's at University Hospital North Durham or Darlington Memorial Hospital or from Outpatients at Shotley Bridge Hospital or Bishop Auckland Hospital.

The Cashiers Departments opening hours are:

Univeristy Hospital of North Durham - Monday to Thursday: 9am to 12:30pm, 1pm to 4.30pm
Friday: 9am to 12.30pm, 1pm to 4pm

Darlington Memorial Hospital - Monday to Thursday:  9.30am to 12.30pm, 1pm to 4.30pm, Friday: 9.30am to 12.30pm, 1pm to 4pm

Claims can also be claimed retrospectively by completing the HC5 form which is available from the cashiers offices at Univeristy Hospital of North Durham or Darlington Memorial Hospital and from the Outpatients Department at Bishop Auckland Hospital or Shotley Bridge Hospital.

Explorer Tickets are available in advance by application to Financial Services, University Hospital North Durham (Contact number 0191 3332851) . The appointment(s) will be confirmed before the advance tickets are issued and attendance and entitlement to HTCS assistance will be checked.

'In recent times, I have utilised admissions to Richardson for respite direct from my fracture clinic, even at weekends. I have never worked anywhere with this efficiency before - it is reassuring and invaluable for the patient.'

Patient, Lowson / Starling Wards, Richardson Hospital