Feeds

Health Dept. to review high hospital phone charges

Makes you sick

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Ofcom has called on the Department of Health (DoH) to carry out a review into the cost of phoning patients in hospital. The review stems from an investigation launched by the comms regulator last summer amid allegations that people were being ripped off for telephoning patients in hospital.

Two companies - Patientline Ltd and Premier Managed Payphones Ltd - operate bedside phone systems that enable patients in hospital to make and receive calls. While making a call from hospital costs about 10p a minute, phoning a patient can cost 39p off peak and 49p for a peak-rate call.

Closing its probe into whether these charges were "excessive", Ofcom said that its investigation had "identified that high call prices are a result of a complex web of government policy and agreements between the providers, the NHS and individual NHS Trusts".

The bedside phones - which also provide TV and radio - are not paid for by the NHS but by the companies involved which then seek to recover their investment - around £1m per hospital - from the high call charges.

Ofcom wants the DoH to take another look at the issue adding that the review "should include the way in which the cost of providing these services appears to be borne disproportionately by friends and family calling patients in hospital".

The DoH, Patientline and Premier have already told Ofcom they are prepared to look into ways to improve matters.

In a statement, Patientline chairman, Derek Lewis, welcomed today's announcement which, he said, "recognises that Patientline's charges have been dictated by the structure of the Government's programme."

"Ofcom has concluded that 'providers have been forced to turn to incoming call revenues in order to recover their costs of installation and operation'. We will continue to work with the DoH to secure a more appropriate method of funding for this important NHS service," he said. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills
BT and Co: Independence vote likely to mean 'increased costs'
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Blockbuster book lays out the first 20 years of the Smartphone Wars
Symbian's David Wood bares all. Not for the faint hearted
Bonking with Apple has POUNDED mobe operators' wallets
... into submission. Weve squeals, ditches payment plans
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
This flashlight app requires: Your contacts list, identity, access to your camera...
Who us, dodgy? Vast majority of mobile apps fail privacy test
Apple Watch will CONQUER smartwatch world – analysts
After Applelocalypse, other wristputers will get stuck in
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.