Many children with genetic disorders 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. For information about travelling with a disabled child please visit our travel section.

If you are concerned about costs you might be able to find help with funding.

Check with your hospital before you attend an appointment, most will have a travel office.

If 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 getting:

  • 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 cost’ 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 office. Or you could phone the NHS formsline on 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 help.

The hospital fares office should be able to reimburse you 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 a HC2 or HC3 you may be able to claim a refund once the form is issued. You must have all your travel receipts and you will need to claim using a HC5 form (available from hospitals, job centres and DWP offices). Claims must be made within three months of paying the charge.

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.

For claimants of Income Support you can apply for a budgeting loan from the Department of Work and Pensions, this is a loan not a grant so will have to be paid back.

For more information go to: or contact your local Department of Work and Pensions for more information.

Some charities offer help with hospital travel costs:

The Attlee Foundation: or email: or telephone: 020 7183 0093

React (Rapid Effective Assistance for Children with a Potentially Terminal Illness): or email: or telephone: 020 8940 2575

The Roald Dahl Foundation: or email: telephone: 01494 890465

Families may need a health or social care practioner to verify the child/young persons condition and the need for additional support to travel to the hospital.

For more information on NHS travel costs go to: