Thursday, May 31

Patientline, What Price Freedom?

From the Editor's digital camera, clearly cheap freedom is out of stock.
Double click to enlarge
Readers that are following our campaign on Patientline (if the number of comments are anything to go by, a lot are) will recall one of the points of concerns is the deceptive nature of Patienline's new pricing policy. The prepay cards that are sold by Patientline staff on the wards and also from vending machines outside wards do not reflect the daily charge rate. The effect of this is that Patientline's customers have to pay more than they need to watch TV in their sick beds.

The photographs on this posting are but one sad illustration of the depth of Patientlines poor service. The picture above was taken at the start of evening visiting time in a large North East Hospital and the image below is of the next nearest vending machine, taken a few moments later. There are no £3.50 cards available in either machine, though £10 cards are easily available at the peak time of sales - the term 'rip off' comes to mind. (Patientline's hard pressed staff are not on duty during evening visiting time!) What a price for ''freedom''!

If the Director of Patientline who is specifically responsible for customer service has sufficient interest in the actual quality of Patientline's customer service and wishes to reduce stress on the wards as well as increase their sales without applying inappropriate targets to their staff; I would be pleased to supply other examples of how their operational failure's are adding to the misery of many sick people. My email is I wonder if pigs might fly past my PC at the time I receive an email from Patientline on this important issue?



"Chris" said...

I worked at Patientline with Peter and I can vouch that this type of thing is not a one-off. Patients sometimes had to walk to the other side of the hospital (around half a mile) just to find a cheaper card as they were always the first to become out-of-stock... and the manager was exceptionally slow at replacing them.

June said...

Not only pressurised and inappropriate selling, faulty bedside equipment and extortionate prices but a very poor service entirely when patients and visitors are forced to spend £10 when they only want to spend £3.50. Either that or they cannot watch TV.
Can Patientline get any worse?

Rik Allen said...

As an ex employee of patientline i can confirm many of the goings on within the company with regards to selling credit to customers, they do over charge and a very unreliable system they run in their call centre can lead to people being kept on hold indefinately for technical reasons related to the computer sytem used to assign call's. There were also occasions where the system did not automaticaly cut off a call that lasted longer than 30 minutes on the premium rate number (an infringement on gudlines and laws set by the lieks of ofcom with regards to the use or premium rate numbers) however the blame cannot entirely be set on the company, hey do operate with in guide lines set by the government and as the entire establishment is set up privately if the gorvernment had stepped in earlyer and part founded the the company they qould perhaps be less sales driven and more custoemr service driven. I would hate to be seen as a disgruntled employee, the company is not entirely reprehensible for it's actions.

Peter Troy said...

Both the two vending machines were re stocked on Friday but by evening visiting time neither machine was able to dispence change. Patientline really do not understand how to make friends of their customers !

valerie G. Tibbles said...

why would you expect the machines to dispense change on a Friday evening?

When my mum was in hospital, on the friday AFTERNOON no one was availble to fix her phone system so she use it over the weekend and that was at 2pm on friday, so I am dam sure there would not be anyone to refill the machines in the evening.

This is patientline we are talking about after all, what do you expect?

Anonymous said...

Just to to make you aware....
The £2 "freedom card" previosuly offered a few hours tv and phone. under the new pay structure the card has become obselete. that is why it has been removed from patientline vending machines. As it does not work in the way that is printed on the card. So rather than false advertise they were removed. logial i thought.... Also no hospital has just 1 vending machine. if one is empty patients can go to another. These machines do have a limit to the amount of cards and cash that can be in them.

Who ever took this photo has done patientline a favor. It shows how popular the system is and that it is hard for them to keep the vending machines fully stocked.

Valerie G. Tibbles said...


What do you think a hospital is for?????

Sick people are normally too ill to go wandering around miles of hospital corridors, looking for machines, so that they can contact their loved ones.

Most of them are not allowed to go wandering the corridors to find working machines,

(a picture of loads of patients wondering around the corridors, hooked up to drips and heart monitors, has just sprung into my mind, which is a rediculas but an exstreamly funny thought.

There would be jams of people trying to pass each other with monitoring trolleys and beds. You would need a traffic warden )

As for the empty machines, it shows me how much revenue the company is losing.

Not how popular it is. What gave you the idea that the two pictures were the same machine I wonder?????

Well I do want to say, a thank you to you anonymous, for the laugh. Perhapes someone could draw a cartoon for me, of all the patients hooked up to machine's wandering the hospital corridors in search of cards, unfortunatly I can not draw.

But I would love to see that done, so if anyone can draw this, please send me a copy, My email is

Hey ,Anonymous why do you not give it a go, it was your idea after all

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