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Refund of Fares For Hospital Treatment/Appointment

edited 17 October at 6:55AM in Benefits & Tax Credits
32 replies 1.2K views
deannatroisdeannatrois Forumite
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edited 17 October at 6:55AM in Benefits & Tax Credits
I am writing this for anyone in the same situation as I was.  You can get fare refunds for hospital treatment even on occasion if you have to use a taxi to get to far flung treatment units (although not recommended if any other options).  But I wanted to put a thread about this if anyone else is wondering if they can go for treatment and afford the fares.

I am in receipt of benefits (Income support, child tax credits enhanced PIP care and Mobility) and recently was told on Monday afternoon I had to go to a specialist unit the next day for 7.30 am for treatment to a confirmed open fracture (only to the thumb), it was 30 miles away.  I may be very rare, I don't have access to anyone with a car.  I hadn't sorted a volunteer transport company out yet (and to be honest I'm not sure anyone would be willing to pick me up at 6am as I had to be).  A  taxi company was willing to take me, for £50 each way.  Because it was an open fracture and the risks of infection were high, and bone infections difficult to treat I felt I had to go, even though it was only a thumb injury.  

Initially I thought I'd need to fund the transport myself, then in the middle of the night I found https://www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/help-with-health-costs/healthcare-travel-costs-scheme-htcs/  but it said you have to get permission for taxi fare refunds, which is understandable due to the expense.  But obviously I couldn't ask permission, by the time I got home from the minor injuries unit, it was too late.  So I crossed everything to see if I could sort it out at the specialist unit.

I did have some difficulty explaining to the cashier that I had to use a taxi company due to the early start.  She did permit the refund but on the understanding I never used taxi's again.  I tried to explain that with less than 24 hours notice, I would have had problems finding a volunteer driver even if I had been registered with one of these services but she wasn't interested. It was a 2 3/4 hour journey by 2 buses and 2 trains, I wasn't felling well and probably wouldn't have gotten there (autistic with problems travelling) - and erm does public transport start at 4.45? I had nearly not gone for the op because of the problems getting to the specialist unit and the expense myself.  Obviously in the past I have either not gotten treatment because the place was too hard to get to, or I have used public transport if I could.  This just wasn't possible this time.

But there you have it.  Believe it or not, I am still recovering even though it was only a thumb, seems to have knocked me for six. I do feel embarrassed at the cost in spite of the way this might read (wish the treatment centre wasn't so far away as I have a good general hospital a couple of miles away, why they couldn't do it I don't know).

But I hope this helps someone.

Oh and make sure you get receipts from the taxi!  You also need to take proof of benefits with you and get a form from the treatment unit.

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Replies

  • Robbie64Robbie64 Forumite
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    Thanks for your post.
    The cashier was being unreasonable in telling you to never use a taxi again. Obviously she gets to the hospital easily so doesn't appreciate that for some people, especially on a short notice appointment, this isn't always the case. The rules are quite straightforward (and are repeated in the page you linked to):
    What form of transport can I use?
    The NHS organisation handling your claim will normally base any refund on the basis of what would have been the cheapest suitable mode of transport for your circumstances.
    This can include your age, medical condition or any other relevant factors, such as the availability of public transport.
    This means you should use the cheapest, most appropriate means of transport, which in most cases will be public transport.
    In your case you had to use a taxi. This was reasonable under the circumstances. Had you chosen to travel by taxi out of convenience then the cashier would have a point. In your case you had to travel by taxi out of necessity.
  • edited 17 October at 10:14AM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 17 October at 10:14AM
    Robbie64 said: In your case you had to use a taxi. This was reasonable under the circumstances. Had you chosen to travel by taxi out of convenience then the cashier would have a point. In your case you had to travel by taxi out of necessity.
    However the guidance is clear
    If you need to use a taxi, you should agree this in advance with the hospital or CCG before you travel.
    in OP’s case it is understandable that this was not possible but anybody using a taxi without prior agreement needs to be aware that a claim may not be accepted.
    There are all sorts of complications to do with what form of transport is best for Coronavirus safety depending on the nature of the health condition. Even in ‘normal times’ (if you can remember those) patients having chemotherapy would be advised to avoid public transport due to increased risk of infection.

    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
  • KxMxKxMx Forumite
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    I think OP was very lucky, to get a taxi refund at all is rare never mind one which wasn't pre authorised.

    I speak from experience with travel refunds myself.

  • Lanzarote1938Lanzarote1938 Forumite
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    The area I was in would not even authorise hospital transport if there was a mobility element of DLA/PIP in payment. Funds had already been provided for transport costs and this rule was strictly adhered to.
  • edited 17 October at 7:31PM
    calcotticalcotti Forumite
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    edited 17 October at 7:31PM
    The area I was in would not even authorise hospital transport if there was a mobility element of DLA/PIP in payment. Funds had already been provided for transport costs and this rule was strictly adhered to.
    I'm not sure that if that policy was applied to the payment of travel costs that it would comply with the scheme but I don't know what degree of discretion each health trust has. My understanding is that if you are on one of the qualifying means tested benefits you are entitled to claim - getting a disability benefit as well should make no difference.
    Information I post is for England unless otherwise stated. Some rules may be different in other parts of UK.
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  • Spoonie_TurtleSpoonie_Turtle Forumite
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    venison said:
    Pok3mon said:
    Wow another way to fleece the NHS. People baffle me.
    Thats grossly unfair, sometimes people need help with travel cost when they are living on benefits, sounds like you might be one of the lucky ones 
    Indeed. The provision is (or should be) there for people who need it, and thank goodness it is. If the OP hadn't been able to get her thumb seen to she could well have ended up with it infected and long-term damage as a result.
  • theoreticatheoretica Forumite
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    venison said:
    Pok3mon said:
    Wow another way to fleece the NHS. People baffle me.
    Thats grossly unfair, sometimes people need help with travel cost when they are living on benefits, sounds like you might be one of the lucky ones 
    Indeed. The provision is (or should be) there for people who need it, and thank goodness it is. If the OP hadn't been able to get her thumb seen to she could well have ended up with it infected and long-term damage as a result.
    Which from a purely financial point of view could easily have cost the NHS more than the taxi.

    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    Pok3mon said:
    Wow another way to fleece the NHS. People baffle me.
    What a nasty comment. It baffles me. You've obviously never needed to get to a hospital miles away when you have no transport and you've an injury which makes you feel ill. OP had no choice on this occasion and, as someone who has paid into the NHS for a very long time (as millions of others have), I do not think of this as 'fleecing' anyone. Thank goodness there's some help in this country for those who genuinely need it, as the OP did.
  • MalMonroeMalMonroe Forumite
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    I think you were very lucky as under the Healthcare scheme you're supposed to pay yourself and then reclaim but you really had no option and I'm glad you were able to be treated. Don't downplay your injury, a fracture hurts - no matter where it is! 

    Hope you're feeling well soon - don't feel guilty either.
  • deannatroisdeannatrois Forumite
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    Its ok, it is a lot of money to refund.  As I have said, I have never used a taxi before, if I couldn't get to a non local hospital for treatment using public transport, I tended to not go.  This time I felt I had to because of infection risks.  If my local hospital could have done it, it would have been a half hour bus ride.  But i suppose its worth the NHS relying on patients to transport themselves which the vast majority will, at no cost to the NHS, and have to refund the odd person that can't, rather than provide local services.  I don't feel good asking for the £100 refund, but disability benefits aren't actually there to fund the lack of NHS services either. On this one occasion in my entire life, I claimed the fares back given that the gov.uk website said that I could. with permission that I could not obtain.  £100 is a lot of money to me too!

    But this is an open forum, there are always going to be people who disagree.  That's ok.  I'm just glad there will be people who read this and will know that in the same situation what to do.  If I had known I could, perhaps, when receiving the first treatment, asked for a delayed appt so I could ask for permission.  Given how unwell I am feeling and how much this darned thumb is hurting, I think it did need treatment, I was in surgery for an hour. I do think it was the right thing to do. I am glad I went.  
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