Patientline cuts call charges7th August 2007
NHS telephone services provider Patientline has said it will not raise its charges for bedside telephone calls.
The company offers telephone, television, radio and internet options to patients. It is provided at over 75,000 hospital beds.
In April 2006, the firm revealed it had debts of £80m and its investment of £180m in bedside terminals meant it was necessary to "recoup costs."
In the same month, the firm raised call costs from 10p per minute to 26p. Patientline has said that the take-up rate for these services was lower than anticipated. As a result, the charge will go back to 10p per minute.
Patientline has come under attack over its high charges and sales strategies. Many hospitals now allow the use of mobile phones, which has decreased the number of patients using the company's telephone services.
Although the company has reduced call charges for patients, people calling a patient's bedside will still pay 49p a minute for their incoming calls.
Michael Summers, of the Patients Association, said the price was "getting pretty close to robbery, frankly. They must realise that most of these people are not in a position to pay these sort of fees."
Telecoms regulator Ofcom investigated Patientline's charges and found that they were due to NHS contracts which allowed the company "the exclusive right to provide telecommunications systems for many years."
Charlotte Brown, commercial director of Patientline, said: "The price cut is testament to our dedication to making people's stay in hospital easier."
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Wednesday 8th August 2007 @ 19:42
The ergonomics of the earlier terminals was very poor - try working them single handed lying in bed.
As with many Hospital Radio services the use of high investment hard wired bedside systems means that the very rapid development of consumer entertainment and communication technologies, makes their their systems unattractive/obsolete long before recovering investment or meeting operating costs.
The assumption that they could provide the nursing and medical bedside IT was a non-starter and the breakeven target of £ 4 per patient day an unacceptably high cost for prospective users.
Saturday 18th August 2007 @ 16:44
The payback on outlay should have been calculated to account for patients who are less well off - therefore charges would have to be low.
Probably this would have shown that the payback would take many many years and not be feasible.
Good idea but not 'do-able.'
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Title: Patientline cuts call charges
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 3650
Date Added: 7th Aug 2007