NHS in England - help with health costs

If you are referred to hospital or other NHS premises for NHS specialist treatment or diagnostic tests by your doctor, dentist or other health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

The section below explains who is eligible for the scheme and how to make a claim.

Who can claim help with travel costs?

To qualify for help with travel costs under the HTCS, you must meet three conditions:

Condition one: At the time of your appointment, you or your partner (including civil partners) must receive one of the qualifying benefits or allowances listed below, or meet the eligibility criteria of the NHS Low Income Scheme.

Condition two: You must have a referral from a healthcare professional for a specialist or to a hospital for further NHS treatment or tests (often referred to as "secondary care").

Condition three: Your appointment must be on a separate visit to when the referral was made. This applies whether your treatment is provided at a different location (hospital or clinic) or on the same premises as where your GP or other health professional issued the referral.

Children and other dependants

You can claim travel costs for your children if you are eligible for any of the benefits described under condition one and your child has been referred for treatment as outlined in condition two and condition three. If your child is 16 or over, they may make their own claim under the Low Income Scheme.

Carers and escorts

You can claim travel costs for an escort, if your health professional says that it is medically necessary for someone to travel with you.

Some CCGs may accept claims for help with travel costs if you are the parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16 who you have to bring with you to your appointment.

These payments are made on the basis of the patient’s eligibility for the scheme, irrespective of the escort’s eligibility.

Who cannot claim help with travel costs?

You cannot claim help with travel costs if: 

  • you are visiting someone in hospital; however, if you are a visitor in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits listed below, you may be able to receive assistance from your local council
  • you are visiting your local GP, dentist or other primary care service provider for routine check-ups or other services, such as vaccinations or cervical cancer screening, as these are excluded from the scheme; urgent primary care services during out-of-hours periods (i.e. between 6.30pm and 8.00pm weekdays, at weekends or on bank holidays) are also excluded