Most patients are expected to make their own travel arrangements for routine hospital appointments, however, some patients may be eligible for non-emergency patient transport services. These services provide free transport to and from hospital for people who have a medical need for it. You may also qualify for re-imbursement of your hospital costs - your transplant coordinator or hospital social worker will be able to advise you more on hospital transport.
Some patients may experience difficulties with routine travel due to illness and while recovering from their transplant and there are various schemes in place to help e.g. discount on public transport; community transport schemes; blue badge scheme; motability.
Visit www.nhs.uk (search 'hospital travel') for more information on hospital travel and transport and mobility information.
More useful websites:
GOV.UK (search blue badge scheme) - for details on applying for a blue badge parking permit www.GOV.UK
Motability - information on exchanging mobility allowance for lease of a car, mobility scooter or electric wheelchair www.motability.co.uk
Travelling prior to Transplant
Individual transplant centres may have differing policies on travelling while you wait for your transplant, so you will need to check with your transplant centre if you are planning to travel. If you are well enough you may be able to travel within the UK whiles you wait for your transplant, but you will need to keep your transplant centre informed of your travel dates and both addresses and telephone numbers of the places where you are staying and be contactable at all times in case a donor match is found for you while you are away.
It may be possible to travel abroad if there is a pressing need e.g a family wedding or special occasion, but it's most likely that you will be taken off the transplant list of the duration of your holiday. It is always prudent to check with your team first before booking any foreign travel.
Travelling Post Transplant
Once you are home from hospital and feel sufficiently recovered then it may feel possible to travel within the UK for holidays and visiting friends and family. It's important that you pack all the medication you will need during your stay and that you take extra with you in case of an emergency. It's useful to take your transplant diary, prescription lists and perhaps your latest clinic letter, so if you do require assistance, medical staff have some information. If you do require medical assistance, it's always prudent to keep your transplant team informed and check any medication adjustments, as they have the expertise for your condition.
It is common to have to wait until you're one year post transplant before you may be able to travel abroad - check with your centre as it may depend on how you are faring individually. It's also prudent to discuss with the team your choice of location before making any bookings. There are higher risks of infection when you are travelling abroad and are immunosuppressed and a trip to a country where there is poor food and hygiene may be dangerous.
Holiday insurance is important and it's imperative to make the insurance company aware that you've had a transplant and of any transplant related medical conditions and other conditions you may have. It's wise to ensure your holiday insurance covers repatriation and last minute cancellations due to a medical emergency.
You may be asked for a medical letter by your insurance company to state that you are fit to travel, so advance planning is helpful to allow your team to organise this for you. Travel insurance cover can vary widely in cost, so it's important to shop around for the most competitive prices.
- Tips for Travelling Abroad
- Ensure you have enough medication for the duration of your trip plus extra in case of emergency - plan in advance;
- Carry all your medication in your hand luggage and appropriate and up to date lists of prescriptions and doses from your GP and transplant centre plus your latest clinic letter and any fit to travel correspondence;
- Drugs have 'brand' names and 'generic' names - e.g. Program/Tacrolimus - jot down the generic names of your drug, so it can be understood if there's a language barrier;
- Follow food and drink guidelines given by your centre as food and drink risks are higher abroad;
- Follow guidelines for sun safety as transplant patients carry a higher risk of skin cancer - high factor sun cream; wide brimmed sun hats; cover up bare skin; avoid sun between 11am and 3pm