Help with health costs

You might be able to get help with the costs of travelling, parking, prescriptions, wigs or special equipment.

Travel costs

You can get help with travel and unavoidable parking costs. You qualify if you have been referred to a hospital or other NHS service. This is usually for specialist treatment or tests. The refund for your travel and parking cost is paid under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

To qualify, you:

  • or your partner (including civil partners) must be getting one of the qualifying benefits or allowances (see below). Or you must qualify for the NHS Low Income Scheme
  • must have a referral from a healthcare professional to a specialist or hospital for further NHS treatment or tests
  • must have an appointment that is on a different day from when the referral was made. This is whether or not your treatment will be at the same or different place as the referral


You qualify for help with travel costs for your children if you and they meet all the above criteria.

Children aged 16 and older can make a claim under the Low Income Scheme.

Your carer or someone to travel with you (an escort)

You can claim help with travel costs for a carer or escort. This is when your doctor or another health professional says that someone has to travel with you because of your medical needs.

You might also qualify for help with travel costs if:

  • your child is under 16
  • has to come along to the appointment with you

The qualifying benefits and allowances

You can get help with travel costs if you or your partner (including civil partner) are getting any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC) with Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • WTC with a disability element or a severe disability element
  • CTC but you're not eligible for WTC
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • Universal Credit and you meet the criteria

If you don’t get a qualifying benefit but are on a low income, you may also qualify for help with your NHS travel costs. If you have savings, it should be:

  • £16,000 or less
  • £23,250 or less if you are in a care home
  • £24,000 or less if living in Wales

Who can't get help with travel costs?

You wouldn't qualify for help with travel costs if you:

  • travelled to visit someone in hospital
  • visited your GP, dentist or another primary care service provider for things such as routine check ups, or other services, such as vaccinations or cervical cancer screening
  • used urgent primary care services during out of hours periods (between 6.30pm and 8pm on weekdays, weekends or bank holidays)

What transport qualifies?

The refund for your travel costs will be based on what would be the cheapest most suitable way of travelling for your circumstances. The NHS organisation will take into account:

  • your age
  • medical condition
  • factors such as the availability of public transport in your area

In most cases, the cheapest and most appropriate way of travel is public transport.

If you claim for travelling by car, you may get money for the cost of fuel. This will be paid at the rate used by your local Integrated Care Board (ICB). You can also claim for unavoidable car parking and toll charges.

If travelling by taxi, you should agree the cost in advance with the hospital or your ICB.

If you travel in London, you might be able to claim for congestion charges.

You can claim back your travel costs within 3 months. You usually go to the cashier's office or Patient Affair’s office in the hospital or clinic that treated you. They can pay you directly. Take your travel and parking receipts, appointment letter or card, as well as proof of the qualifying benefits with you.


In England, many hospitals have free car parking or discounts for people with cancer. Ask your hospital for more information.

You might be eligible for free parking if you are not on a course of treatment. To qualify, you have to visit the hospital more than three times in a month. It also needs to be for a period of at least 3 months.

If you have a Blue Badge or regular appointments for a long term condition, you can have free parking. It will be free for the range of your attendance at, or visit to, the hospital.

Parents of children or a young person (under the age of 18) can have free parking. This is when they have to stay in hospital overnight. It is for between 7.30pm and 8.00am while visiting. This would apply to a maximum of 2 vehicles.

In Scotland and Wales, hospital parking is free at all hospitals.

In Northern Ireland, hospital parking is free if you are having chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

Free prescriptions

Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

All prescriptions are free if you live in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.


There are charges for prescriptions in England. But if you have cancer, you can apply for a certificate to allow you to get free prescriptions. This is called an exemption certificate.


Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland

Synthetic wigs are free through the NHS for people having cancer treatment and living in Wales and Scotland. In Northern Ireland, Health and Social Care Services provide free wigs.


In England, synthetic wigs are free of charge on the NHS if you:

  • qualify for help such as if you get certain benefits
  • are under 16
  • are under 19 and in full time education
  • are a hospital inpatient
  • you have an NHS tax credit exemption certificate
  • you are named on a valid HC2 certificate

If you don't qualify, you have to pay for them.

Special equipment

A physiotherapist or occupational therapist usually organises any special equipment. They usually do it before you leave the hospital. You don't pay for this equipment.

For help with getting any special equipment, you can also contact:

  • your GP practice
  • local council
  • social services

They will do an assessment to find out what help you might need and provide it for free.

The Disabled Living Foundation gives information and advice on any equipment that can help you to live more independently.

Where to get advice

You can get help and advice on benefits from the following people:

  • a hospital or community social worker - they can give you advice on benefits and help you deal with debts
  • a welfare rights adviser at a hospital
  • Citizens Advice - their advisers can help with filling out benefit forms
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provide its service through Jobcentre Plus offices. They deal with benefits for people who are unemployed or who can’t work because of a health condition or a disability

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Department for Communities deals with benefits and pensions. For Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) and Income Support in Northern Ireland, you need to contact your Jobs and Benefits office.

Macmillan Cancer Support

Macmillan Cancer Support provides support and guidance on how to deal with the financial impact of cancer.

You can contact their team of trained Welfare Rights Advisors (Monday-Friday 8am-8pm) or Financial Guides (Monday-Friday 8am-6pm) on 0808 808 0000.

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