Help with transport costs for medical appointments

The Highlands & Islands Patient Travel Scheme can provide financial assistance to all patients in the area who live more than 30 miles from the hospital they are attending, although patients have to pay the first £10 themselves.  The Scheme may also be able  to help with overnight stay costs where these are unavailable.  GP surgeries can provide more information.

The Ross of Mull & Iona Community Transport Service (RoMICTS) and the Ulva Ferry Community Transport service can also help.   They already support residents by taking them door to door for medical appointments. If eligible for the NHS Highland Patient Transport Scheme they help passengers by taking them through the process of obtaining a travel warrant from the GP Surgery, arranging ferry bookings, completing and submitting expense claims to the administrator in Lochgilphead, helping people in financial difficulty.

Where there is no suitable public transport option (i.e. bus service), under the terms of the NHS Highland Patient Transport Scheme,  then Community Transport is an option.

The NHS Highland website has further information about the Policy for Financial Assistance for Travel to and from Hospital.  Some extracts from the policy in place as at January 2022 are below.  The costs of travel by taxi will be considered only in certain circumstances and always requires prior approval.

1.3.2 Highlands and Islands Patient Travel Scheme – this scheme recognises that patients who are resident in the Highlands and Islands may be required to travel significant distances to attend hospital appointments given the geography of the area. Under this scheme all patients from the former Highlands and Islands Development Board areas are entitled to financial assistance with their travel costs if they live more than 30 miles from the hospital they are attending.

2.1 The Patient Travel schemes are not designed to fully reimburse patients for the full cost of travelling to attend an appointment but to provide a contribution towards the cost.

2.2 Patients qualifying for financial assistance towards travel expenses under the Highlands and Islands Travel Scheme (i.e. as per section 1.3.2 above) are required to pay the first £10 of any claim. This will be deducted from the claim received.

2.3 Patients and their carers/escorts (hereafter referred to as escorts) are expected to use the most cost-effective means of transport suitable to their needs, taking into account the overall cost of the trip.

4.2.1 Patients and approved escorts will be entitled to have overnight stay costs refunded at the current rate per person per night, as detailed in Appendix 2, if the stay is unavoidable due to the time of the appointment, admission, or discharge.

4.4 Taxi Fares

Due to the high cost of taxis all alternatives should be investigated – travel by taxi should be seen as the last resort. NHS Highland will consider reimbursement of taxi costs in certain circumstances, for example:

  1. There is no public transport available
  2. Time restraints prevent the use of public transport
  3. It has been approved by the patient’s clinician due to mobility issues

All taxi journeys must be approved prior to the taxi journey being undertaken either by:

  1. The patient travel administrator, or….”
Tedious waiting in the hospital corridor