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
East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust's Patient Transport Service 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
Contact East of England Ambulance Service for further details and to book transport.
Or call them on 0345 6038117.
Help getting to a Covid-19 vaccination appointment
There are a number of community transport schemes and taxi firms available to help with transport to vaccination appointments.
And Caring Together is providing free support for carers to attend their COVID-19 vaccination.
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 some areas, people can apply for a bus pass that allows you to travel free of charge if you're above pensionable age (depending on the area).
- National Rail offers a range of discounts and concessions for children, people over 60, and people with disabilities.
- Local Authority websites will have 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.
- Details of Cambridgeshire's free bus pass scheme
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.
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
Depending on your situation, and where you live, you can also find voluntary organisations that can help you get to hospital.
Look at the local directory of community transport to see what other options you may have. Some GP practices also have volunteer care schemes to help patients.
Last checked 10 December 21