Concern over phone costs for patients

IPSWICH Hospital representatives have today condemned the news that the cost of making telephone calls from patients' beds is to increase by 160per cent.

IPSWICH Hospital representatives have today condemned the news that the cost of making telephone calls from patients' beds is to increase by 160per cent.

Patientline, which charges people to make phone calls and watch television in hospital, is to increase its call charge from 10p a minute to 26p.

Pru Rush, of the Ipswich Hospital Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) Forum, said the increases had come as a shock.

Mrs Rush said: “I don't know how they can justify it.

“Patientline are using the patients as sitting targets as they have no choice. We are not at all happy.

“Not everyone has got a mobile phone and not everybody knows how to use them. Lots of patients, particularly older people, are stuck in bed.”

Most Read

The Heath Road hospital's website says mobile phones can be used in main entrance areas, corridors and restaurants but not in wards, outpatient clinics and other clinical areas.

Last month, health minister Andy Burnham said he saw “no reason” why they could not be used within hospitals.

Patientline said the increases were necessary because it had never made a profit despite investing £160m in the system.

Patientline, which posted losses of £25m last year, used to charge patients £3.50 a day to watch television and £2.20 for an hour on the internet. Now it is reducing the cost of television to £2.90 a day to compensate for the higher cost of calls.

For people outside hospital calling patients at their bedside the cost is 39p per minute off-peak and 49p a minute peak.

An investigation by Ofcom, which regulates phone and television services, last year claimed the firm could be breaking competition laws because of the high charges for dialling into hospitals.

N Do you think the increases are unfair? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter