NHS offers help with patients’ travel costs
Friday 5th December, 2008
For some patients, travel to receive healthcare can present difficulties – the journey may be lengthy or complex, costly, or there may be poor access to public transport. In particular, patients on benefits or low incomes can find it difficult to meet the cost of travelling to hospital or other healthcare premises for treatment or appointments. This sometimes means that patients do not attend appointments which could have potentially serious consequences for their health.
Now as many people watch their purse strings, patients in West Sussex are being reminding they may be eligible to claim back their travel costs when receiving NHS care.
Since 1st April 2008, an existing travel cost reimbursement scheme was extended and many people are still unaware they could benefit from the new rules.
Under the scheme, patients on low incomes or receiving specific qualifying benefits or allowances are reimbursed in part or in full the costs incurred in travelling to receive certain NHS services, where their journey meets certain criteria.
Patients may be able to get help with necessary costs of travel if they or their partner are getting-
• Income support
• Income based jobseekers allowance
• Pension credit guarantee credit
If a patient is not receiving one of the benefits above but are on a low income, they may be eligible through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
The patient must also be receiving treatment in NHS premises, such as a hospital or a private unit under contract with the NHS, after being referred by their doctor or dentist for treatment or tests. The patient will not be eligible for travel costs if they have not been referred by a doctor or dentist, or their treatment is taking place on the same day and in the same place as the visit to their doctor/dentist.
Carol Gareze, Managing Director of West Sussex Health, West Sussex Primary Care Trust’s (PCT) own community services provider, said, “This is good news for patients and we really would urge any person who is eligible for this scheme to find out what they are entitled to.
"We understand the cost of travel can be a worry for patients but we hope it would not get in the way of their treatment. We are committed to ensuring our patients have access to the healthcare services they need, and this is a definite step towards ensuring every patient has the access they need.”
For more information, advice or support please contact the NHS Helpline on 0845 850 1166.