Date Published: 19 January 2007
Consultation on the expanding hospital travel cost scheme (UK)
Health Minister Andy Burnham today announced a consultation to invite views on the Hospital Travel Cost Scheme (HTCS) following a commitment to expand the scheme to cover referrals by health care professionals in a primary care setting.
The HTCS provides financial assistance to patients on a low income who do not have a medical need for ambulance transport but require financial assistance to meet the cost of travelling to hospital based services for NHS treatment under the care of a consultant.
In January 2006, the Department of Health's White Paper Our Health, Our care, Our Say made a commitment to extend the HTCS to include people who are referred by health care professional for treatment in a primary care setting provided they meet the existing low-income criteria.
Andy Burnham said:
" As care moves closer to people's homes, more services will be available locally and provided by a wider range of health care professionals. However, even with services closer to home, people will still have to travel to receive some of their NHS care.
_ This consultation will look at how patients can receive reimbursement for their travel expenses as more care is delivered out of hospital and how awareness of the scheme can be raised amongst staff and patients. We are keen to hear ideas on how to make the system work for both patients and the NHS to ensure people get the care they need."
" For example, at the moment an eligible patient on income support can claim for travel costs if a hospital consultant refers them to a physiotherapist at a health centre but the patient cannot claim if a GP referred that patient to the same physiotherapist. The changes to the scheme and consultation will help iron out these anomalies."
Macmillan Cancer Support, Head of Campaigns & Public Affairs, Ayesha Owusu-Barnaby said:
" We welcome this consultation as a first step to finding out why awareness of the scheme is so low among cancer patients and to making sure everyone who is eligible gets the financial help they need when they need it. We urge all patients to make their views known to help those in need in the future."
The closing date for the consultation is Friday 13 April 2007 and changes to the scheme are expected to come into force in October 2007.