If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you may be able to get free or discounted travel fares. You may also be able to get a Blue Badge to help with parking costs.

Costs of travelling to hospital

You may be able to get help with your travel costs to and from hospital for treatment.

Claiming a refund

If you have to travel to and from hospital for treatment, you may be able to claim a refund on:

  • your bus or train fares
  • some petrol costs
  • taxi fares (in some situations).

If you need someone to travel with you to hospital for medical reasons, you may be able to get a refund on their travel costs, too.

Who can claim?

You can claim a refund if you get one of the following benefits:

You can also claim if:

  • you are entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you have a low income – this means you can get help with travel costs as part of the NHS Low Income Scheme.

You can usually get your refund at the hospital from the cashier’s office. Check what you have to do before you travel. In some cases, you may be able to get an advance payment to help you attend your appointment. You will need to bring proof of:

  • one of the qualifying benefits – for example, your benefit award letter, tax credit exemption card or certificate awarded under the NHS Low Income Scheme
  • your travel costs – for example tickets or receipts
  • your appointment.

Some voluntary organisations have drivers who can take people to hospital and other places (for example to the shops). Check at your local library or search online for details of voluntary organisations in your area.

Hospital parking

Hospital car parking policies are different across the UK:

  • England

    Many hospitals give people with cancer free car parking or discounts. But this is not always well-advertised. You should ask your hospital for more information. Hospital parking is free 24 hours a day if you have a Blue Badge or attend regular appointments to manage a long-term condition. Free parking is also available at certain times of day for parents of children who need to stay in hospital overnight.

  • Scotland

    Hospital parking is free at all hospitals except Glasgow Royal Infirmary, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

  • Wales

    Hospital parking is free for everyone.

  • Northern Ireland

    Hospital parking is free at all hospitals if you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

 

Local transport services

You may be eligible for special travel rates or community transport services in your area.

Services available across the UK

  • Free or reduced-cost bus travel

    In England, Wales and Scotland, if you have a disability, you can get a free bus pass if you meet certain criteria. Contact your local council for more information. In Northern Ireland, you can travel for half-price if you are getting certain disability benefits. Contact Translink on 0289 066 6630 or use text phone number 18001 9066 6630.

  • Community transport services

    If you have problems using public transport, these services may be available in your area. For example, services providing trips to local shopping centres. Some areas have wheelchair-accessible transport that can pick you up from home (dial-a-ride services). To find out what is available in your area visit the Community Transport Association website or speak to your local council.

  • Disability Action Transport Scheme (Northern Ireland) 

    This scheme provides low-cost transport for people with disabilities in Northern Ireland. Find out more at Disability Action.

  • Local voluntary groups (good neighbour schemes)

    Some areas have local groups that provide practical help such as help with transport to hospital or to see your GP.

  • Shopmobility schemes

    These provide wheelchairs and scooters to help disabled people get around their local area or shopping centres. In England, Scotland or Wales, call 0844 414 1850 or visit nfsuk.org In Northern Ireland, visit shopmobilityni.org or call 0300 10 20 150.

  • Reduced taxi fare schemes

    These are available in some areas. Speak to your local council for more information. Or get more information at gov.uk or nidirect.gov.uk


Regional transport services

  • Patient Transport Services

    Some hospitals offer free transport to and from hospital for people who need special medical support during their journey, people who have difficulty walking, and parents or guardians of children who are being transported. A medical professional will need to refer you to any Patient Transport Service at your hospital.

  • St John Wales

    St John Wales can provide transport for people in Wales who have problems using public transport or their own vehicle. Visit their website or call 0292 044 9600.

  • The Highlands and Islands Travel Scheme

    Under this scheme, people from the Highlands and Islands in Scotland can claim a refund on their travel costs to hospital. To qualify, you must live or work in the former Highlands and Islands Development Board area. Or you must need to travel at least 30 miles from your home (or more than 5 miles by water) to hospital. You must pay £10 of any fare you are claiming, unless you are getting certain income-related benefits. If you need someone to travel with you, their expenses can also be paid for. A health professional has to confirm that this is medically necessary for you. Ask your GP or the cash office at the hospital for a claim form.

  • Isles of Scilly Travel Cost Scheme

    The NHS funds transport for all Isles of Scilly residents to get to and from the mainland for hospital treatment. You have to pay a £5 booking fee.

  • London Taxicard scheme

    The London Taxicard scheme provides discounts on door-to-door transport for people who have problems using public transport because of serious mobility problems. Taxicard holders can make journeys in licensed London taxis. The discount is applied to each trip. For more information and an application form, visit London Councils or call 020 7934 9791.

There are schemes offering discounts on taxi fares in some areas outside London. You can ask your local council or GP what help is available in your area.

The Blue Badge Scheme

If you have problems with mobility, you may be able to get a Blue Badge. A Blue Badge allows you to park in parking spaces closer to where you need to go. It may let you park for free:

  • on streets with parking meters or pay-and-display machines for as long as you need
  • in disabled parking bays on streets for as long as you need, unless a sign says there is a time limit
  • on single or double yellow lines for up to 3 hours, unless there is a ‘no loading’ sign.

You may have to pay if you are using some private car parks, such as in hospitals or supermarkets. You need to check the signs in the car park.

You must continue to follow the usual parking rules. For example, you can still get a fine if you park somewhere that could put people in danger.

To get a Blue Badge, you will need to receive the higher mobility component of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or score 8 points or more in the ‘moving around’ part of of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessment.

If you do not automatically qualify, you can still get a Blue Badge in some situations. These include if you have long-term problems with walking or severe problems using both arms.

How to apply for a badge

  • If you live in England, Scotland or Wales

    You can visit the gov.uk website or contact your local council. To get details of your local council visit the websites for England, Scotland or Wales.

  • If you live in Northern Ireland

    Apply online at or call 0300 200 7818.

Your healthcare professional or a welfare rights adviser may be able to help you fill out the application forms. A Blue Badge costs up to £10 in England, £20 in Scotland and £10 in Northern Ireland. It is free in Wales. They usually last up to 3 years. You must reapply before your current Blue Badge expires.

There are special badge schemes for people with restricted mobility who live, study or work in areas where the Blue Badge Scheme does not apply, such as London. Visit Disabled Motoring UK for more information.

Tunnels bridges and toll roads

Blue Badge holders and other disabled people pay a reduced rate, or no fee, at some river crossings, bridges and tunnels. In most cases, you have to apply in advance to get a discount. Toll discounts can change, so check before you travel. Contact your local council for advice. If you live in Northern Ireland, call the Blue Badge Unit on 0300 200 7818.

London Congestion Charge and T-Charge

There is a charge of £11.50 a day to drive within central London at certain times. If you have a Blue Badge, you do not have to pay the charge. However, you will have to make a one-off payment of £10 to register for this discount.

If you need to pay the Congestion Charge to get to a medical appointment, you may be able to claim this money back from the hospital. A health professional, such as your cancer doctor or nurse, would need to confirm you are too ill to travel on public transport. Remember to keep your receipt for the Congestion Charge so you can claim your refund.

For drivers of older vehicles in central London there is also a T-charge of £10 per day. If your vehicle is registered for any discount for the Congestion Charge, you automatically get the same discount for the T-charge.

For more information, visit the TFL website or call 0343 222 2222. You can also use textphone 0207 649 9123.

Other driving costs

You may qualify for schemes that help you buy or rent a car, scooter or powered wheelchair.

Road vehicle tax exemption

You may be able to get free road tax if you are disabled. You may qualify if you get any of the following:

If you get the mobility component of Personal Independence Payment at the standard rate, you may qualify for a 50% discount on your road tax.

For more information, call 0300 123 432, or visit gov.uk

You can also get renewal forms from your local Post Office.

Motability Scheme

Under this scheme, you can get help to buy or hire a car, scooter or powered wheelchair instead of receiving the cash benefit of:

Contact the Motability Scheme to apply.

Seat belts

If you cannot wear a seat belt for medical reasons, you can get a medical exemption certificate from your doctor. There are also aids and adaptations that make it easier for people with disabilities to wear a seat belt. For more information, speak to your doctor or contact the Disabled Living Foundation.

Bus, coach and train costs

Older people and people with disabilities can often get free or discounted travel fares.

People of State Pension age in England, people aged over 60 in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and eligible disabled people can apply for a bus pass.

This gives you a reduced price, or often free travel, on local buses. There may also be local support towards taxi costs. For details, you can also ask at your local bus or coach station or contact your local council if you live in:

If you live in Northern Ireland, call Translink on 028 9066 6630 or use textphone 18001 9066 6630.

You may also be able to save up to a third on rail fares with a Disabled Person’s Railcard or a Senior Railcard (for people aged over 60). You can also check at your local train station for details, or visit National Rail which covers rail travel all over the UK.

In Northern Ireland, half fare bus and rail travel is available for people with mobility needs. You must apply for a travel card called a SmartPass. If you are aged between 60 and 64, you can apply for a 60 Plus SmartPass, or a Senior SmartPass if you are aged 65 or over, which allows you to travel free throughout Northern Ireland. Go to translink.co.uk, visit your local Translink bus or rail station or call 028 9066 6630 (textphone 18001 9066 6630).

How we can help

Macmillan Grants

If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

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