Patient transport

If you're unsure as to whether you qualify for support either based on your medical or financial needs, in the first instance please contact the Centralised Booking Service at Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust on 01872 252211.


If you're going to a healthcare appointment for non-emergency tests or treatment, you'll normally be expected to make your own way there using your own transport or the range of public, community and voluntary transport available locally.

Cornwall Council's website provides useful information about some of these local transport schemes (search for ‘community transport schemes’) and voluntary car services such as TAP provide a door to door service which is also relatively affordable, contact 01872 223388 (TAP Cornwall) or 0845 0539100 (TAP Devon). The British Red Cross (01872 272878) also has a community transport scheme.

Non-emergency patient transport services

From October 2018 NHS Kernow intends to commission one universal non-emergency patient transport service for patients in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. At present the service is provided through a number of contracts spread across several providers. A single universal service will make it easier to make sure the needs of patients are being met by:

  • Improving the quality of services;
  • Ensuring they are better value for money;
  • Introducing a single point of access for all types of non-emergency patient transport, and
  • Ensuring patients access the right type of transport for their needs.

You can read more about these changes in our Engagement report

NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS)

HTCS provides financial help with travel costs for patients with a low income who are referred for NHS treatment by their GP (or sometimes by their dentist). Visits to GP surgeries and dentists for routine care, as well as most A&E attendances, are not included. 

The hospital where you are receiving treatment can advise you about making a travel costs claim (at most hospitals this will be the general office or cashier’s office), and they will be able to supply the correct forms. Information and advice can also be obtained from the NHS helpline on 0300 330 1343. 

For more information visit the NHS Choices website for advice on getting help with travel costs.

NHS Funded patient transport

The Patient Transport Service (PTS) is for patients who are unable to get to their NHS appointments or treatments because they have a medical need for special transport. To be eligible for the service, you must need support or assistance during the journey to your healthcare appointment. 

PTS is for patients who have been assessed as requiring transport due to medical need, and is mainly limited to ambulance transport. The NHS is not able to provide PTS for social reasons, or for privately funded appointments and treatment, and there are strict national eligibility criteria for this type of transport depending on the patient’s medical condition and the amount of support or assistance required on the journey.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust now handles all Patient Transport Service assessments and bookings for Cornish patients travelling to any NHS funded appointments and treatment, at any location. Patients who think they may qualify for NHS transport should therefore telephone the PTS office on 01872 252211 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, weekends and bank holidays 9.30am to 5pm).