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Call for action over hospital phone charges

Independent review due to publish report

The government is being urged to find a “practical solution” to the costs of telephone services for patients in hospital, which can be as much as 49p a minute.

In a Commons early day motion, Liberal Democrat Andrew George said charges by firms such as Patientline, Premier and Hospital Telephone Services had not been reduced.

He called on the government to find a “practical solution which results in a call cost acceptable to patients, friends and family, NHS trusts, Ofcom and the providers.”

Last March in the Commons, Labour’s Helen Jones called for a review into the charges by Patientline which has a contract with the NHS.

Independent review

Liam Byrne, junior health minister at the time, said the Health Department had set up a review group “to explore the issue of costs to users of these systems”.

The motion put down today has so far been signed by 32 MPs, including Tories and Liberal Democrats.

A Health Department spokeswoman said: “The department has facilitated an independent review group to look at the issues and its report will be published shortly.

“The department remains committed to giving patients more choice and control over their environment.

“Payphones are still available in hospitals for patients who do not want to utilise the bedside systems and we have issued guidance allowing use of mobile phones where it is appropriate to do so and subject to medical and privacy considerations.”

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