Oyster Travel Cards (weekly/ monthly/ annual)
You cannot base a travel claim on the use of a weekly/ monthly/ annual Oyster travel card. The reason for this is that these cards allow you to travel at evenings and weekends, and the NHS travel regulations make it clear that this ‘benefit in kind’ is not permissible (in other words, the NHS operates on a principle that it will not pay you for your travel on non-NHS business).
You can purchase a travel card and use it to travel from home to UCL. In many cases this card will cover travel from home to placement, and hence trainees are not ‘out of pocket’ , and will not submit a travel claim.
If travel to placement means that the “home to placement” journey is longer than the journey from “home to UCL”, you should not purchase a travel card that covers this additional distance. An example should make this clearer.
Imagine you live in Brixton (Zone 2) and have a weekly travel card for zone 1-2 (which covers your travel to UCL). You are then allocated a placement in Edgware (Zone 5).
You might think that it a good idea to purchase a Zone 1-5 travel card, but this would not be sensible as you cannot use this as the basis for any travel claims. Instead you should continue to purchase a zone 1-2 travel card and follow the instructions immediately below for computing the out of pocket test.
Out of pocket test and travel cards
Although you cannot make a claim directly based on the use of an Oyster travel card, you can claim for travel beyond the zones covered by the travel card, as follows:
Oyster Travel Cards allow you to travel within a set number of zones (e.g. Zone 1 to 3). If you travel beyond these zones then the Oyster card automatically adds an extension fare, and this is recorded on the printouts you can obtain from tube travel offices (and which are then used as evidence of travel when you submit your claim).
If you have an Oyster travel card that covers you for travel between home-UCL, and travel to your placement involves travel outside the zones covered by the travel card, the out of pocket test will be the extension fare.
Again, imagine you live in Brixton (Zone 2) and have a weekly travel card for zone 1-2 (which covers your travel to UCL). You are on placement in Edgware (Zone 5), and use your travel card for this journey. This means that on the days you travel to placement you are automatically charged the extension fare. This extension fare can be claimed as your ‘out of pocket’ expense (and as it will appear on printouts of your Oyster travel this will constitute the receipt you need to submit with your claim).
Daily caps and claims for travel once you have arrived on placement
Once you arrive on placement you charge the actual cost of clinically-related travel (for example, travel to a local clinic, or to a client’s home, and so on) – you don’t need to compute out of pocket expenses.
However, bear in mind that if you are using public transport the actual cost of travel is capped - whether you are using an Oyster travel card or a pay as you go card there is a daily cap (equivalent to the cost of a daily travel card).
This means that you cannot make a claim for any one day that exceeds the daily cap. This might seem obvious, but consider the following:
As in the examples above, a trainee lives in Brixton and is on placement in Edgware. Let’s assume that they are using an Oyster pay as you go card:
|Brixton – Goodge Street (i.e to UCL)||£2.50|
|Brixton – Edgware||£4.10|
|Daily out of pocket expense @ £1.60 each way = £3.20|
Once they arrive on placement they can charge the actual cost of clinically-related travel (for example, travel to a local clinic, or to a client’s home, and so on). However, they are travelling on an Oyster card, so the actual cost of the whole day’s travel cannot be greater than the daily cap (since this is the maximum amount that they would be charged). Just to make this clearer:
After the trainee above arrives at Edgware they make 5 return journeys to Colindale on the tube. Computed individually at the pay as you go rate, each journey costs £1.40 single, so in theory that adds up to £14.00.
When this trainee makes a claim for the day, they might think that they can claim their out of pocket expense for travel from home to placement (£3.20), plus a notional £14 for travel once they arrive on placement. However, this sum would exceed the daily cap (which, in reality, is what they would actually have paid for that day).
For zones 1-5 (including peak time travel) the daily cap is £15, so that is the maximum that can be claimed.
The basic point is that you cannot claim more than you actually spend.