Feeds

Health Dept. to review high hospital phone charges

Makes you sick

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

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. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
GoTenna: How does this 'magic' work?
An ideal product if you believe the Earth is flat
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.