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Patientline goes into administration: Few tears shed


Hold up! Before you read on, please read this...

This post was published more than 11 years ago

I keep old posts on the site because I often enjoy reading old content on other people's sites. It can be interesting to see how views have changed over time: for example, how my strident teenage views have, to put it mildly, mellowed.

I'm not a believer in brushing the past under the carpet. I've written some offensive rubbish on here in the past: deleting it and pretending it never happened doesn't change that. I hope that stumbling across something that's 11 years old won't offend anyone anew, because I hope that people can understand that what I thought and felt and wrote about then is probably very different to what I think and feel and wrote about now. It's a relic of an (albeit recent) bygone era.

So, given the age of this post, please bear in mind:

  • My views may well have changed in the last 11 years. I have written some very silly things over the years, many of which I find utterly cringeworthy today.
  • This post might use words or language in ways which I would now consider highly inappropriate, offensive, embarrassing, or all three.
  • Factual information might be outdated.
  • Links might be broken, and embedded material might not appear properly.

Okay. Consider yourself duly warned. Read on...

Patientline Bedside System

Patientline Bedside System

I note with interest that Patientline, provider of controversial bedside phone-cum-television-cum-internet consoles in NHS hospitals, went into administration on Friday.

My posts on Patientline – dating back as far as 2005 – received numerous comments complaining about the overpriced nature of the system, as well as the poor customer service users received, yet I’ve always been one of the first to defend the system against criticisim of high prices: That particular problem has come as a result of poor contractual negotiations on the part of NHS Trusts countrywide.

The contracts negotiated vary from the flexible terms in which the systems are cutsomised and integrated into the hospitals IT system, to crazily imposing terms whereby the units’ screens can’t even be switched off during daylight hours. The NHS Trusts who allowed the units to be installed must have been aware that this private company was primarily interested in profits, yet allowed the installation to go ahead regardless: In some cases, through apparently give-away contracts.

The company spent hundreds of millions of pounds providing expensive equipment to patient bedsides across the country – replacing simple TVs which used to exist on wards. They then attempted to charge up to £3.50 per day for individuals to watch their souped up TVs, and charged up to 49p per minute for people to phone the units.

This represented unacceptably poor value to hospital patients – after all, who wants to pay £24.50 per week for Freeview? – and has ultimately resulted in poor value for the NHS: Essentially, patients are getting much the same service provided by the TV in the corner of the room and the portable payphone for many times the cost.

It’s easy to see the apparent advantage to NHS Trusts – able to boast about an apparent improvement in service whilst neglecting to mention the increased cost to patients – yet it’s hard to see how, at those prices, investors didn’t see Patientline’s business plan as critically flawed before it even got off the ground.

Private companies are, by definition, interested primarily in profits – not in the best interests of patients. This is the fundamental problem with PFI projects in the NHS, and that the government fails to see that time and again shows either great naivety or great incompetence. I suspect I know which.

The ghost of Patientline is rising, pheonix-like, in the form of Hospedia, who are attempting to become the monopoly provider of such services – and oversee the spread of these terminals yet further. By investing a further £12m in improved services and cutting prices, Hospedia hopes to make a go of this business. I’m not convinced it’s possible… I guess only time will tell.

» Image Credit: Patientline publicity image

This 1,361st post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics, , , .

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Comments and responses

Comment from Neill

by Neill

Comment posted at 15:32 on 31st August 2009.

Having just come back from visiting my Terminally ill father in hospital where he has the “luxury” of a Hospedia terminal in his room, I have to say this service is terribly flawed from a customer viewpoint. Firstly the television picture is noisy and of variable quality, the internet option is overly complicated in use and extreemly slow and the cost to the customer is so prohibitive that he feels that he shouldn’t have the service in the first place as it is costing my stepmother a small fortune.
His last visit was to a hospital where there was no Hospedia system. Just a large screen TV (with excellent reception) DVD player and full remote control all for free, yes free, the wheel in phone cost pennies and the patients were allowed their mobile phones in any case, no moneygrabbing private company involved in the exploit of very vulnerable poorly NHS patients.
So stuff you Hospedia I hope you crash and burn just like Patientline did.

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