Monday, October 29

Patient Power Failure

From the Editor's Desk.
When Blair's legacy is assessed from a distance in time where spin can no longer distort the facts the Government's Patient Power Initiative (launched in 2000) under which the troubled Patientline company was awarded contracts to provide hospital bedside TV, Radio, Internet and Telephone services the full scale of the distress this iniative caused to sick people in over 150 British hospitals will be revealed.

Seven years after the launch the Department of Health has distanced itself from the debacle of the poor service that Patientline is providing in its terminal decline. Following numerous complaints from constituents to their MP's Ben Bradshaw MP the Minister for State for Health Services has recently confirmed that when Patientline goes into administration the Government will ensure the continuity of service to patients. That help would emphatically not include the financing of the troubled company under any conditions.

Thus when Patientline ceases trading in a few weeks, as inevitably it must, it can only get better for its customers. Non-profit making companies should replace Patientline and provide the bedside entertainment and communication service - a contingency plan that was considered when the original licenses were created.

So why do I continue to post on Patientline? Why bother? The answer is simple. In the eighteen months I was contracted to the company I witnessed first hand the distress that this company caused to sick people with it's greedy incompetent service. I worked with some truly wonderful people who were committed to providing a first class service whilst paid a little more than the minimum wage and plagued with faulty equipment and impossible sales targets. On many occasions I wrote to Patientline at senior level advising of the actuality of the stress the company was causing on the wards and indeed to its own staff. Their reaction was that of First World War Generals - ignoring the intelligence reports from the front in favour of their own propaganda. It is only fair that the truth be told.

The provider of 'phone and TV services has rightly been heavily criticized for charges dubbed “bedside robbery” with critics which include this blog saying its cheaper to phone Australia than to call a sick friend or relative in a local hospital on a Patientline system. Earlier this year it raised prices by 160 per cent to 26p a minute. It was condemned by patient groups and later scrapped the increase under media pressure.

I have received many emails from volunteers on hospital radio services (I was one once) complaining of Patientline's service. The company's next wheeze is to charge patients £1 for headsets that it was hitherto providing free. The very same headsets that can be purchased for 20p on market stalls and are mostly faulty. How nasty!

Nick Winks, Patientline’s chief executive, who earns almost £230,000 a year - not bad for managing a failing company that has become known as a national disgrace - should hang his head in shame. However as Geoff White, Patientline’s chairman, who recently proved when he said the future was “very challenging, we cannot continue year after year with the minimal level of investment in new equipment” that Patientline's Director's will continue to spin the truth for as long as they are able to pay themselves their fat salaries.

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Susan said...

"Thus when Patientline ceases trading in a few weeks" what is your source for this information Peter? I have not seen this anywhere.

Peter Troy said...

Clearly Patientline employees (I am certain that is what you are) are less well informed than inquiring bloggers. I will however give you a clue - The DoH won't fund Patientline, the Banks won't advance any more money, the share price is less than 1p, suppliers are not being paid on time, 20% of bedside units are faulty and Patientline's customers won't pay - QED Patientline will cease to trade in a few weeks.

Peters lovechild said...

More rubish from the bitter and twisted failure that is peter troy..

You should concentrate on getting another job instead of bleeding from the government you horrible looking man.

No need for any halloween mask for you with a face like that.

Louloubelle said...

Cackle Cackle Cackle Well it is Halloween. Oh I wish I could put on the laugh you gave me 'peters love child'. Trick or Treat; I would say that life delt you a nasty trick. For a witch your crystal ball has let you down not showing you what Peter is now doing. Oh dear, maybe you should polish it.

Sarah Hopperty said...

Well said Loulouabell. Peter and other journalists is doing a splended job exposing Patientline in the media. Only the ignorant can call Peter a failure. Now can we get back to more polite comments on this section please.

susan said...

Peter, I do not want to get involved in any petty bickering here. I mearly enquired of your source. What is the source that says patineline only have a few weeks trading remaining? Also thoughout your patientline blogs you refer to the the percentage faulty units being 5%, 10% and 20%. Which is it?
If one makes a statement it is always nice to give the source. Otherwise it looks like one is making things up.

Peter Troy said...

Well if you read my original quote I said that it was inevitable that Patientline would cease tradng within a few weeks. Inevitablilty does not need any source other than logic -as I explained above.

As to the failure of equipment of Patientline's Bedside Units (BSUs) I have never quoted 5 per cent. The correct figure is 10 per cent which has since the summer increased to 20 per cent; if not more. My source is reliable - so reliable that I have quoted it with confidence in the national press recently. Patientline are at liberty to deny the figures - it would be defamation if the level of faulty equipment were exaggerated - though the company has chosen, to date, not to do so.

Currently the volume of complaints regarding the quality of the BSU's received at the call cetnre (picture quality, freezing of units and poor telephone connections) also supports my 20 per cent figure.

On 30 April of this year at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough there were 89 reported seriously faulty BSU's out of a total of aproximatly 1150.Other unites were occasionaly failing as well( a fact that the Nursing Staff were constantly concerned about). Todate by my own observations and indeed investigations (from the Trust) of faulty BSU's at Middlesbrough have grown to well in excess of 20 per cent. Additionaly there is obviously a problem with prepay cards in Vending machines at James Cook - they are frequently (source my own observations) not available.

Fear not Susan, raising issues that are causing stress to sick people is not a petty issue.

susan said...

sorry Peter, it was an estimated 5 - 10% you said before. My error.

"In my eighteen months with the company I would estimate that between 5-10 per cent of the equipment that effected Patients viewing at the site at which I worked was at any one time in a variety ways faulty."

A source :-)

Peter Troy said...

Being very British I do tend to use understatements.

The essential truth is that Patientline's service, due to faulty equipment and incompetent senior management, is getting worse!

Mrs Jane Smith said...

I was recently a patient in North Tees Hospital. I was in three different beds during my two week and one day stay. Two of the TVs were faulty most of the time I was trying to use them and very costly to use I might say. I missed the use of the internet when I was in hospital but the Patientline handset was very difficult to use. In the end I gave up with the damn things! So as far I am concerned Patienline's equipment is 66.66% faulty and the service was no good at all - no one came to see me about any of the problems; though a very nice girl from Scotland did try to help on the phone.

Anne Hardwick said...

Do you know why there are so many televison units in the James COOK University Hospital that have faulty hydrolic arms, unviewable pictures and faulty headsets?

Anne Hardwick, Ward Manager JCUH