Sunday, December 16

Patientline in the Mirror

Below is yet another press story on Patientline. The company has a well deserved reputation as one of the most hated companies in Britain for failing to understand the needs of sick people in hospital who are its customers. A series of incompetent marketing and operational decisions this year has exposed the Directors as at best being economical with the truth and failing in to supply a basic service to NHS patients. NHS Trusts will be better of as soon as Patientline ceases trading; which is now expected to be announced any day.

A story in the Sunday Mirror by Stephen Hayward exposes threats to patients in Hospitals by a Patientline member of staff. Such paractices as highligted by the Mirror were incouraged by Patientline Management when the editor of this blog had a contract with Patientline in 2005/6.

Patients are being threatened with legal action if they bring their own TVs to watch in hospital.

Private firm Patientline is using agents to patrol wards to insist patients only use its service - at a cost of £2.90 a day.But last night furious patients' groups slammed the firm for ripping off patients. One patient threatened with legal action by a woman Patientline agent was retired builder Cyril Holes, 64.

He was on his third visit to hospital to sort out a gall bladder problem, but did not want to pay Patientline's fees - so he plugged in his own 5in TV. Cyril said: "The sister and nurse saw me watching the TV but didn't say a word. Then one afternoon the Patientline woman appeared and told me to switch it off. She said I wasn't allowed my own TV
because it was a breach of contract her company has with the hospital.
"She said if I kept watching, I would be prosecuted." Patientline also charge 49p a minute to phone patients, while outgoing calls cost 10p a minute.

The firm has £80million debts and is keen to recoup a £170million investment in its phone and TV system in 150 NHS hospitals. The Patients' Association said: "Patientline agents are paid to go round the wards to make sure patients use their services. But they've no right to threaten patients who have no contract with them. They are simply exploiting a captive market.''

Mr Holes, back at his home in Brighton, East Sussex, yesterday, said: "It's wrong that patients are forced to pay to use Patientline TVs, as the fees really add up after a few days." A spokesman for the leading charity Macmillan Cancer Support said: "This is another tax on the sick and vulnerable."

The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, where Mr Holes was treated, said it would speak to Patientline about how they approach patients - but only battery-powered devices were allowed in wards.

Patientline refused to comment last night


Anonymous said...

Patientline ''Customer Care Centre'' (thats a joke) is please dial 0870 212 1234 to complain about the poor service and high cost.

Anonymous said...

please don't call that number. that will just make the service even more poor as patients with a real problem that need assistance will not be able to get through.

Peter Troy said...

Well on the other hand if Patientline are not told how bad the service is in the little time that the company has left they will not improve.

Anonymous said...

Seems a bit irresposible to me to use an untested portable appliance in a hospital which could potentially cause real damage to hospital equipment and services.

Peter Troy said...

Is the above a comment on Patientline - who are in fact doing very real damage ? The insensitivity of the Patientline employee was not even able to be defended by the companies PR people!

Sarah Hopperty said...

Well Anonymous as a Senior Patientline Manager (trying to be cleaver) it would seem a bit irresponsible for a very sick patient to prefer to use their own equipment rather than pay patientlines high fees for a les than reliable service!