SadButMadLad's Blog

Just another blog complaining about anything and everything

Posts Tagged ‘Patient Power

Cell block H for Hospital

Just been watching Watchdog and Fiona Phillips talking about the situation in NHS hospitals with regards TV and telephones at the bedside. Whilst I hate her husband, she has a point about the situation.

Patients trapped in a hospital bed and bored out of their mind are having to pay over the odds just for basic entertainment and communicating with their family and friends. In 2000 Labour in the wisdom decided that rather than the NHS arrange such services for patients the best thing would be to offer it to private companies. That way it would be the patients paying for it rather than the NHS. Plus the NHS can take a percentage of the profits. A very similar situation to the car parking at NHS hospitals – the patient pays for it.

Patients have to pay nearly £3/day for access to the TV and phone access is charged at rates sometimes higher than mobile phones. And the access to the TV is not useful either. Sometimes even just to watch a half hour programme you have to pay for the whole day. Then the quality of the TV can be quite variable with audio sync problems, channels not working, remotes not working, etc. Then when you contact the service provider, at premium rates, they acknowledge the problem but won’t fix it straight away. If you are in hospital for any length of time, the charge builds to extortionate amounts very quickly. Well over £100 just for stays of a week or two. And this is for free tv too, not just for premium channels like Sky.

Phone access is bad too. This has got worse from 2008 when patients could bring in mobile phones into the hospital. This was brought about because of the complaints about the high charges. Because the service providers do not make so much money from the phones, they’ve had to increase their charges. So patients without mobile phones are at a disadvantage. Not exactly what should have happened when mobile phones were allowed. And it’s not because patients can’t afford a phone. There are still occasions when ill-informed nurses stop such access, or when hospitals more concerned about the money they get from the service provider refuse mobile phones in the wards.

Basically Labour made a mistake in 2000 just as the internet was starting and all the digital channels were being created and mobile phones were becoming ten a penny. As is usual, the government set up long contracts with no break clauses. When times changed and there wasn’t much of a market for TV and phone services there was no way to bring the system to a stop. That’s because the “stakeholders”, and no the patients aren’t the stakeholders, had no reason to stop it. The NHS hospitals didn’t want to stop it because they made money from the service. The service providers didn’t want to stop it because they had invested so much money because they were promised the service in perpetuity so spent over the odds on the infrastructure.

Generally if you are in hospital for some time, you are better off buying a smartphone and using the various video on demand services and the internet.

And the real kick in the teeth? Prisoners get their TV for free. Admittedly the don’t get mobile phones for obvious reasons, but they are generally better off than patients in terms of entertainment facilities.

Written by sbml

October 28, 2010 at 22:01