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, we often hear from people who are physically unable to travel, can’t afford transport, or live in a rural area.
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 because of your medical condition
Thames Ambulance Service Limited (TASL) is commissioned to provide Non-Emergency Patient Transport for eligible patients in Lincolnshire. There are eligibility criteria in place for patients who use Non-Emergency Patient Transport to ensure it is only used by those patients whose medical condition warrants it, for eg:
- 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
To find out if you are eligible, call Thames Ambulance Service Limited on 0808 164 4586 or please see TASL website.
What do I do if I am not eligible?
If you are not eligible, there are other forms of transport available to you including public transport and taxi services. Information on local public transport services can be found at Public Transport Information for Lincolnshire Website
Lincolnshire County Council have a transport helpline that patients can call on 01522 550129. More information can be found on Lincolnshire County Council website
Patients on certain benefits can claim reimbursement of travel costs. Information can be found here – Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)
Benefits advice linked to the above points can be found on GOV.UK website
Lincolnshire Voluntary Car Schemes
Depending on your situation, and where you live, you can also find voluntary organisations that can help you get to hospital.
Download our handy Voluntary Car scheme Information sheet which details all of the available providers in Lincolnshire.
Please be aware this is not a free service, contact the individual providers for more information on costs.
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 60 there are often options for reduced or free travel passes.
- In Lincolnshire, people can apply for a bus pass that allows you to travel free of charge if you're over 66 or registered disabled.
- 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.
In other areas, frequent visitors, for example patients with cancer or receiving dialysis or other long-term conditions may be given a hospital pass or free parking. In one area local Healthwatch were able to work with the Trust on introducing season ticket discounts for frequent visitors across three hospital sites.
If you’re driving to hospital, you can check its parking facilities before you go.
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.
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
Healthwatch Lincolnshire - Information and Signposting Service
If you require any further information and advice regarding traveling to NHS services please contact Healthwatch on 01205 820892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org