Guide to going into or leaving hospital

You normally make your own way to hospital. If you do not have your own transport or need specialist care on the way to hospital, you might be eligible for a non-emergency ambulance.

This service is free for NHS patients, but you need to be referred by your doctor, dentist, midwife or other health professional. They will consider factors such as the availability of private or public transport, and the distance you need to travel.

Community transport

Community transport provides services where no public transport services are available, or public transport cannot accommodate some passengers, such as wheelchair users.

Although these are non-profit, most services will charge a small fee. Check with individual operators before travelling.

Also see: non-emergency patient transport service (NEPTS)

Clinical staff may feel you have care and support needs as a result of the reason you are in hospital. If so, they will ask for your consent to refer you to our hospital social care team.

With your agreement, your social care worker will work with you and others to ensure your needs are met once you leave hospital.


A stay in hospital may affect any benefits you might claim.

  • The Disability Rights (UK) website, sets out your Benefits in hospital  (this webpage covers more than just disability-related benefits)

Advice services

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) provides confidential advice and support. They can:

  • listen to your concerns and suggestions about your care
  • give information on the NHS complaints procedure
  • help sort out problems on your behalf

Once your stay in hospital is over, you will usually go home.

  • If you cannot go home alone a hospital social worker can give you help and advice.
  • If you received care and support services before being admitted, the nurse looking after you will arrange for these to be restarted once you return home.
  • If your care and support needs have changed during your stay, you will be referred to Adult Social Care for a review of your needs.
  • If you did not receive care and support services before, but may need help when you get home, your nurse will contact a hospital social worker. They will arrange an assessment of your needs.

There are a range of services that can help you recover after a hospital stay. These include reablement, rehabilitation and the district nurse service. 

Reablement – regaining your daily living skills

'Reablement' is the word we use to describe the service that helps you to regain mobility and daily living skills after a hospital stay.

For more information, see: Mobility and daily living skills.


If you no longer need hospital care but you cannot return home alone, the hospital staff will refer you to us.

You will be admitted to an intermediate care unit. Occupational therapists and physiotherapists will assess you. They will work out a programme of activities to help you. Many people can return home after two weeks of care, often with some further home care support.

District nurse

District nurses provide healthcare to people in the community or at home. This may include giving medication, wound care, continence support, leg ulcer care and catheter management. You or your carer will still need to collect any medication from your local pharmacy.

How much will it cost?

The amount you will pay depends on your needs and financial situation. For more information, see: Paying for care.

The non-emergency patient transport service (NEPTS) in Sussex provides transport for treatment to people who cannot make the journey themselves due to a medical reason.

This service has eligibility criteria that need to be met in order to qualify. Your first journey can be booked by a medical professional or you can call 0300 123 9841 (open 7am to 8pm Monday to Saturday,  8am to 5pm Sundays and bank holidays).

Visit: Non-emergency patient transport service

This service is provided by the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

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