Feeds

Health Dept. to review high hospital phone charges

Makes you sick

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
YOU are the threat: True confessions of real-life sysadmins
Who will save the systems from the men and women who save the systems from you?
Download alert: Nearly ALL top 100 Android, iOS paid apps hacked
Attack of the Clones? Yeah, but much, much scarier – report
Broadband sellers in the UK are UP TO no good, says Which?
Speedy network claims only apply to 10% of customers
Virgin Media struck dumb by NATIONWIDE packet loss balls-up
Turning it off and on again fixes glitch 12 HOURS LATER
Ofcom snatches 700MHz off digital telly, hands it to mobile data providers
Hungry mobe'n'slab-waving Blighty swallows spectrum
Fujitsu CTO: We'll be 3D-printing tech execs in 15 years
Fleshy techie disses network neutrality, helmet-less motorcyclists
Facebook, working on Facebook at Work, works on Facebook. At Work
You don't want your cat or drunk pics at the office
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
The Heartbleed Bug: how to protect your business with Symantec
What happens when the next Heartbleed (or worse) comes along, and what can you do to weather another chapter in an all-too-familiar string of debilitating attacks?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.