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Patients require patience as phone calls go up 160%

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04/04/2007

Hospital patients who use the phone face an increase of 160% in the cost of their calls, as service provider, Patientline, is hiking the price of calls from 10p a minute to 26p a minute.

Calls to patients from outside the hospital cost 39p a minute off peak and 49p a minute at peak times.

Patientline is a private company which has recently made a £160m investment in the system and claims it needs to recoup those costs and make a profit.

It also provides television screens and radio and Internet services at hospital bedsides.

However, despite the increased cost of patient phone calls, Patientline said that the complete package of phone and the other services would fall from £3.50 a day to £2.90.

Patientline systems have been provided for more than 75,000 bedsides, but the company has admitted being £80m in debt and with only enough funds to operate for the next 12 months.

The Patients’ Association has also complained that many people have no option but to use the service as public payphones have been removed from many hospitals.

Heart patient Derek Jackson was infuriated at the cost, especially his daughters being charged for making calls to him. “It cost them over £30 each as I was in for a good while after a triple bypass operation,” he said.

“They were charged by their own phone providers and Patientline, which to my mind is daylight robbery.”

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