Report by the Patient Power Review Group

Report (66 pages, PDF) by the Patient Power Review Group (PPRG) to the Department of Health, reviewing contracts between the NHS and providers of hospital bedside entertainment units and identifying ways of addressing the concerns raised by Ofcom's investigation (16 pages, PDF) into the cost of incoming calls made to hospital patients using these units. An interim report had been submitted in September 2006.

The PPRG finds that service providers are "heavily reliant" on income from incoming calls and a reduction in the cost of incoming calls would be financially unviable. The PPRG evaluates four policy options including a "do nothing option", cost reductions, generating more income for providers by encouraging trusts to procure other services from them, and capital contributions from the Department. The PPRG finds the latter option to be the only potential solution, though the Department has found the proposals made so far along this line unworkable. The PPRG recommends that the Department continue to support the rollout of the Patient Power programme, encourage trusts to review best practice regarding the cleaning of units, support the development of additional income generating projects by service providers, issue further guidance on the use of mobile phones in hospital premises and review the licenses, which allow providers to tender for the contracts with hospital trusts, when they expire in February 2007.

In its response (3 pages, PDF), the Department accepts these recommendations and states that the arrangements set out in the current licences will not be renewed when they expire in February 2007, though the terms of current concessions will remain valid for their full duration. The Department is also to issue fresh guidance, in spring 2007, on the use of mobile phones in hospitals, focussing on "privacy and dignity issues".

For further information or advice please contact Pedro Fernandes.

Filed under Article 82, Department of Health, Healthcare, Ofcom.

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