Lady on a bus

Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme

If you’re referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

What are the qualifying benefits and allowances?

You can claim help with travel costs if you or your partner (including civil partner) receive any of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC) with Child Tax Credit (CTC)
  • WTC with a disability element or a severe disability element
  • CTC but you’re not eligible for WTC
  • Pension Credit Guarantee Credit
  • You receive Universal Credit and meet the criteria

You can also claim for help with travel costs if:

  • you’re named on, or entitled to, an NHS tax credit exemption certificate (if you do not have a certificate, you can show your award notice) – you qualify if you get child tax credits, working tax credits with a disability element (or both), and have income for tax credit purposes of £15,276 or less
  • you have a low income and are named on certificate HC2 (full help) or HC3 (limited help) – to apply for this certificate, you should complete the HC1 form: claim for help with health costs, which is available from your local hospital, Jobcentre Plus offices or the NHS print contract order line on 0300 123 0849.

How do I claim a refund?

To claim your travel costs, take your travel receipts, appointment letter or card, plus proof that you’re receiving one of the qualifying benefits, to a nominated cashiers’ office.

Nominated cashiers’ offices are located in the hospital or clinic that treated you. They’ll assess your claim and make the payment directly to you.

In some hospitals, the name of the office you need to go to may be different (for example, the General Office or the Patient Affairs Office). If you’re not sure, ask reception or Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS) staff where you should go.

Some hospitals and clinics do not have cashier facilities. In this case, you can complete an HC5(T) claim travel charges form and post it to the address stated on the form.

You can make a postal claim up to three months after your appointment took place.

Useful numbers

  • Call 0300 330 1348 for the dental services helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1343 for the Low Income Scheme helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about medical exemption certificates
  • Call 0300 330 1341 for queries about prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs)
  • Call 0300 330 1349 for the prescription services helpline
  • Call 0300 330 1347 for queries about tax credit certificates
  • Call 0300 123 0849 to order a paper copy of the HC12, HC5 and HC1 (SC) forms
  • Call 0300 330 1343 for all other queries


More information about travel costs at the NHS website

Virtual Appointment hubs Northumberland

Virtual appointment Hubs Northumberland

Virtual Appointment Hubs for Northumberland

Patients across Northumberland and North Tyneside are being encouraged to make the most of digital hubs, set up to help them access online healthcare.

Community hubs are being set up across the county by the Public Health Team at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust in partnership with Northumberland County Council and North Tyneside Council to offer confidential spaces for individuals to access virtual appointments who may not have the technology or don’t feel confident in doing it themselves at home.

Since the start of 2021, the Ashington hub has supported 70 outpatient appointments online and the trust is putting arrangements in place to support people from other areas too, including Wooler/Glendale, Belford, Blyth, Longbenton, Meadow Well and Wallsend.

Already, 35% of all appointments per month at the trust are via telephone or online, saving unnecessary hospital visits, travel and parking costs and the need for people to make work or childcare arrangements.

There are also huge environmental benefits. Over the past year, patients at the trust travelled over two point six million fewer miles than the year before.

Marion Dickson, executive director of nursing midwifery and allied health professionals and executive director of surgery and community at the trust said “I’m so pleased we are able to offer this support closer to home for our patients.

“Since the start of the pandemic we have seen a huge shift to online appointments which can be hugely beneficially for both our local residents and our staff. Less footfall in our hospitals also means less opportunities for infections to spread – which will help keep our patients and staff safe.

“But we know not everyone is able to readily access the internet and there are lots of people who struggle to get online. This can be for a number of reasons such as living in an area with poor quality broadband or personal situations which make it difficult.”

According to The Good Things Foundation, nine million people in the UK are unable to use the internet independently and seven million people do not have the internet at home. These hubs aim to tackle these inequalities in digital literacy, digital poverty and digital connectivity to improve health outcomes for local populations.

Marion continued “We are now operating at a level where the most appropriate type of appointment can be offered to a patient, and they can be safely seen in the outpatient department when necessary. We want to make sure everyone has the ability and the skills to access their healthcare in a way which works for them.”

Clinic details

  • Wooler/Glendale area, Cheviot Centre, Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm, 01668 282406.
  • Ashington, Being Woman at YMCA Northumberland, Tuesday – Thursday, 0778647233. or 0800 9991876. Please note: this service is not just available for women.
  • North Northumberland, Belford, Bell View, 01668 219220.
  • Longbenton, Oxford Centre, 0191 643 2750.
  • Wallsend, LD: North East, 0191 262 2261 Please note: this centre is for people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities only.
  • Meadow Well Connected, call 0191 341 0033 between 9am – 3pm to arrange an appointment.
  • Blyth Horizons North East, Community Lounge, 01670 359465 (option 4) 9am – 5pm Monday – Friday.

Please note: patients need to call in advance of their appointments to book in and all premises have been COVID-19 risk assessed.


If you or someone in your family has used one of these hubs, tell us about your experience.

How to contact your GP and get the help you need

As a result of Covid-19, the way patients access GP practices has had to change. Whilst this can be frustrating and unsettling at times, it is necessary to make sure that all staff and patients are kept safe. The following guidance from Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group will help you to contact your GP and get the help you need.

What to do if you need to contact your GP

If your needs are non-urgent, adult patients can contact their GP via the e-consult service on your practice’s website in the first instance. You can contact your GP practice and get a reply within two working days. You can also request medication, sick notes and bloods results through this service.

For health care needs regarding children, urgent problems or for those patients who are unable to access online services, you should telephone your practice and your call will be answered as soon as possible. The practice may ask for a brief summary of the problem to help direct you to the most appropriate member of the GP practice team.

Please note that your consultation may not need to be with a GP. It may be that the care/advice you need can be given by another member of the practice team.

Where possible and appropriate, consultations will be conducted either online or via telephone. If a face-to-face appointment is required and you need to visit the practice, please wear a face covering (unless exempt) when you arrive.

Face-to-face appointments

Your temperature may be taken on arrival and you will also need to sanitise your hands. Please be aware that the surgery doors may be locked and you will need to be granted access by a member of the practice team. There will be less people in the waiting room than usual and chairs are positioned apart from each other to ensure you can observe social distancing.

Please ensure you observe social distancing while in your GP surgery. There is clear signage to guide you. You are asked to wear a face covering if you need to attend the surgery in person.

If you have any coronavirus symptoms including a high temperature, new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste please DO NOT visit a GP surgery. You must stay at home along with anyone you live with and anyone in your support bubble. Only leave home to get a test. Self-isolate until you get your result.

Urgent medical needs

Please don’t delay in contacting your GP practice if you have an urgent medical need. The NHS is here for you and your family.
You can also get urgent medical advice online from or by calling 111. For life-threatening emergencies please call 999 or go straight to A&E.

What practices are doing to ensure services can be resumed as soon as possible

Practices are working extremely hard to manage the backlog of work and patient appointments as a result of Covid-19. Please be assured that they will be doing all they can to arrange appointments and services for you as quickly as possible.

Please also be mindful that, at times, workforces may be affected by Covid-19, so teams may be smaller than usual. They are, however, all doing their very best to look after you. We ask you to be patient, polite and respectful. No type of abuse will be tolerated by any member of staff.

All the necessary steps are being taken to protect you and staff from coronavirus. Robust measures are in place to ensure that practices are safe.

When to self-isolate

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. Please do not visit your GP surgery. You should arrange to have a test to see if you have COVID-19.

If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for COVID-19, you also must self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken.

If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, you must restart your 10-day isolation from the day you develop symptoms. If you live with others, all other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the household became ill or if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

High risk groups

If you are in a high risk group, you can still go out provided you are well but you should:

  • Maintain two metres distance from people outside your support bubble
  • Avoid crowded spaces
  • Wear a face covering in shops and other enclosed spaces
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Wash your hands carefully and more frequently than normal
  • Use sanitiser outside your home (where available) especially as you enter a building and after you have had contact with surfaces.