Sunday, June 10

''Your Target: Sell to Sick People''

Readers who have been following the Patientline debacle may wish to note that the troubled company will be announcing its Preliminary Results for the financial year ended 30 March 2007, on Monday 25 June 2007. It will be interesting to note whether or not Patientline shows any understanding that its falling sales on hospital wards is directly a result of badly misunderstanding the needs of its customers.
Patientline's share price remains on the low plateaux of 3-4 pence, yet the response from the petition protesting at the high price (and poor service) of the company is pouring into the office of the Editor, see image above.

Meanwhile Patientline plan to introduce new higher targets for their ward sales staff next week. Well that we suspect will generate a less than welcoming response from health support workers Union Unison. Apparently the high targets for Patientline's hard pressed staff are focused on daily figures pre-pay card sales, signing up Patients to use bedside TV units and obtaining as many 'phone numbers as possible of patients friends and family (a ''bit of fun'' known as '123s' -see notes below). Staff that fail to meet these targets i.e. sell to sick people will be the subject of ''retraining''.

One member of Patientline Staff who works in the Midlands and understandably does not wish to be named, commented this evening: ''I really do not want to work for Patientline anymore - their sales targets are unreasonable the hassle on the wards is upsetting. The Senior management of the company have no idea how unreasonable it is to ask us to do this work, by imposing unachievable targets they are creating stress - but I can't just leave I am a single Mother with young children I would find it difficult to get a new job.'' The Editor will be seeking a comment from Patientline's Commercial Director Charlotte Brown on Monday Morning.

In the meantime comments (but please not from partly literate Patientline junior management trying to impress their Directors) are most welcome.
This time last year Patientline majored on obtaining the telephone numbers of Patient's friends and family by giving a clear directive and working sales script to it's ward sales staff. That campaign continues in earnest despite condemnation of the Practice on BBC News two weeks ago. Patientline staff are ordered to type into a 'phone key pad the telephone numbers which generates an automatic message on the relatives home 'phone. When the relative calls the Patient back on the Patientline Bedside unit they are compelled to listen to a non-deletable robotic message before they can chat. All of the call costs 49/39 pence per minuite. The 'targeted' patients are mostly unaware of this high cost to their friends and family.
Patientline management are so keen on this money earning ploy that they adopted a technique devised by Lynn Peters last July, at the time a rising star in the ranks of Patientline's junior managers. The incentive involved the staff competing with the site management in local competitons for who can obtain the most numbers of patients friends and family. Charlotte Brown, Commercial Director discribed this practice as a ''little bit of fun'' to BBC News Journalist Graham Satchell last month. Peter Troy when working for Patientline discribed it as ''a Great bit of Deception''. Which is, no doubt, how NHS Trust Managers will also describe it once the practice it is revealed to them.
Memo to Patientline Staff:
When your manager next asks you about how you are doing with your sales targets remind them what a spokeswoman for Patientline (Charlott Brown) said to the BBC : "Patientline does not encourage hard-selling and our advisors are merely there to provide information and support to patients."


Anonymous said...

Carry on keeping us informed on this important issue please Peter. Patients and their relatives continue to be taken for a ride by Patientline who,s management appear to have no conscience over taking advantage of vulnerable people.
Is there no-one in the company who can see that what they are doing is amoral?

Staff Nurse said...

Im a staff nurse in the Essex area, i was disgusted in the advertising that patient line use. The poster shows a bunch of grapes and empiles that the patient line cards are "more use full than a bunch of grapes". These are posted all round the hospital and i feel thay are aimed at visiters, how is buying people a card for tv and telephone more benificial than eating healthy fresh food?

Peter Troy said...

The Staff Nurse raises an interesting point. Let us examimine the choice. £ 3.50 spent on a Patientline Card or £3.50 on a large bunch of grapes.

A Patientline pre-pay card priced at £3.50 will if it and the bedside unit works (and 10 per cent of Patientlines units are in some way faulty at any one time) buy a patient one days TV viewing which will cost £2.90. Though to get full benefit the patient would have to watch TV all day, since the charge is for a continuous 24 hour period. With the 60 pence left over your patient could make a short phone call but it could not be for over two minutes - or if the caller did not answer tough you would be debited with 40p anyway and the remaining balance would be as good as lost. Rather than make that expensive phone call you could put the balance of 60p towards the cost another days TV if your loved one is well enough to cope with the instructions on how to make the transaction.

One can pay money to Patientline by debit card but they only accept minimum units of £5. Refunds on unused balances are available but they take five working days to credit back the bank account.

One of course can ask a Patietientline member of staff to help - though they are mostly instructed to sell as much as possible to sick people, so beware.

The alternative is to spent £3.50 on a bunch of grapes. According to Helen Kolettis Assistant Editor of who wrote in an article: 'The Goodness of Grapes' in September 2003 commenting:

"Can you ever get too much of a good thing? When it comes to grapes, the answer is “no.” With thousands of varieties to choose from, it’s easy to find the right kind for any application. And in addition to their many varieties and uses, grapes are healthy, too. Whether enjoyed as an on-the-go snack or used as a flavorful ingredient in food, grapes offer something good for everyone."

The Grapes sound like the better option - a lot less stressful than Patientline. The Staff Nurse from Essex has a point.