Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My brother has been admitted to hospital again. He was last in just under three years ago when he was found to have an infection of some sort in his liver. The same thing has happened again although it is a lot less severe this time and it was caught a lot earlier. Also he is in a hospital near his home rather than near his daughter's home which is where he was last time.
However, as he is not allowed to use his mobile phone on the ward, he has been provided with a bedside phone so that he can call home and concerned relatives can give him a call to make sure he is OK.
These bedside phones are a great idea in theory. They let distressed relatives who are perhaps not able to visit to call and speak to the patients. People who are in a far worse state than my brother could possibly rely on these things to keep in contact with their loved ones.
It seems rather cynical and callous therefore to give these phones expensive premium rate 0704 numbers AND have a nice recorded message running for a full minute telling you about the line and how much it is going to cost you before you actually get through to the phone you are dialling.
I spoke to my brother for 10 minutes. I was shocked to realise that my phone call cost over five pounds! A ten minute call to another line would in many cases be free or a matter of pennies.
This is disgraceful and is as bad as charging for parking.
Hospitals seem to be taking advantage of the need of people who want to see and talk to their friends and relatives who are ill. Not all hospitals are easy to get to by public transport or on foot and most hospitals conveniently ban mobile phones.
What will be next I wonder? Perhaps we will have to pay a fee to get through the door.
"Sorry sir, I realise your wife's just had a baby but you will have to pay £5 if you want to visit her. Rules are rules."