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Patient transport

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.

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. 

There is additional help for Isles of Scilly residents who need to travel to the mainland for treatment. Please contact St Mary’s Hospital (phone: 01720 422392) for details. 

For more information our 'Help with travel costs' leaflet is a guide for patients.

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.

The eligibility criteria for the patient transport service are based on:

Mobility (how well you can move around), you are eligible if you cannot:

  • bear your own weight
  • get in and out of a chair without help
  • get from your bed or chair to and from a vehicle and into the hospital without a lot of help and support.

Protection (for you or for others), you are eligible if: 

  • the journey will make your illness or condition worse
  • you need protecting to prevent harm to yourself (this may be relevant if you have mental health problems or are confused)
  • other passengers or staff need protecting from you because of your condition.

Treatment, you are eligible if:

  • You need monitoring and / or treatment during the journey 

If you think any of the above criteria apply to you, then you may be eligible for the service.

  • 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 253702 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, weekends and bank holidays 9.30am to 5pm).

The only exception to the above is patients travelling to appointments at Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust, who should phone 01752 431954 / 763511 to arrange transport.

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