Many children with an immunodeficiency may need to be seen in specialist children’s hospitals, such as Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, Birmingham Children’s Hospital or Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Journeys to and from hospital can be expensive and daunting.
If you are concerned about travel costs, you might be able to obtain help with funding. Check with your hospital before you attend an appointment: most hospitals will have a travel office.
If the parents of the child attending hospital are on low income they might qualify for help towards travel costs if that child has been referred for the appointment by a GP, hospital doctor, eye doctor or dentist. It is the parents’ income that counts, so you might get financial help if you are receiving:
- Income Support (IS)
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA-IB) paid on its own or with
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA-IR) paid on its own or contribution-based ESA
- your child is entitled to, or named on, a valid NHS tax credit exemption certificate (see below)
- you receive Working Tax Credit (WTC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). Your family income for tax credits must be £15,276 or less.
You will have to fill in an HC1 form ‘Claim for help with health costs’, giving details of your finances, and send it off in a pre-paid envelope. This form is available from job centres, health centres, hospitals and your local Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) office. Or call the NHS Forms Orderline: 0845 610 1112.
If you qualify for help based on the information you have given on the HC1 form, you will be sent an HC2 or HC3 certificate. HC2 pays full costs and tells you who it covers and how long it lasts. HC3 pays partial costs.
The hospital fares office should be able to reimburse you for the return fare at the time of your visit. Keep all tickets and receipts as proof of travel. You will need to show evidence of benefits or exemption (certificate HC2 or HC3). If you are unable to pay a fare in advance, check with the hospital, as there may be other forms of assistance.
If you have paid for travel before receiving an HC2 or HC3 you may be able to claim a refund once the certificate is issued. You must have all your travel receipts, and you will need to claim using an HC5 form (available from hospitals, job centres and DWP offices). Claims must be made within three months of paying for the travel.
You should use the cheapest form of transport available, preferably public transport. If it is necessary to drive, petrol costs will be reimbursed at equivalent to public transport costs unless public transport is not an option, then full petrol costs will be reimbursed.
Income Support claimants can apply for a budgeting loan from the DWP. This is a loan, not a grant, so will have to be paid back.
For more information go to: www.gov.uk/budgeting-loans or contact your local DWP office for more information.
Some charities offer help with hospital travel costs:
React (Rapid Effective Assistance for Children with a Potentially Terminal Illness): www.reactcharity.org or email: https://reactcharity.org/contact or telephone: 020 8940 2575
The Roald Dahl Foundation: https://www.roalddahlcharity.org/ or email: https://www.roalddahlcharity.org/contact-us/ or telephone: 01494 890465
Families may need a health or social care practitioner to verify the child/young person’s condition and the need for additional support to travel to the hospital.
For more information on NHS travel costs, go to: www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcosts/Pages/Travelcosts.aspx