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Department of Health written question – answered on 14th July 2017.

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Photo of Lord Cotter Lord Cotter Liberal Democrat

Her Majesty's Government what action they will take in response to claims that hospital patients are paying 50p a minute to make telephone calls.

Photo of Lord O'Shaughnessy Lord O'Shaughnessy The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

The Department is not party to the contracts made with any of the companies that provide the bedside telephone service to patients and it has not made an assessment of the contingency arrangements National Health Service trusts have in place, should their service provider be unable to fulfil its contractual obligations. Therefore it has no authority to impose any price changes on the suppliers of the services.

Patients can use their mobile phones as an alternative in specified areas of the hospital and payphones should be available as an alternative.

It is the responsibility of the NHS trust to consider contingency arrangements, should it wish to continue to provide this service to its patients. The telephone company contracts are made between individual NHS trusts and their chosen suppliers. Trusts do, in fact, have the ability to renegotiate their terms.

The bedside telephone is an additional service to that which existed in the past so alternatives already exist in hospitals. It is still possible for relatives and friends to contact a hospital via its main switchboard, and then be transferred to the nurses’ station on a ward to enquire about their relative’s health, as they have always been able to do in the past.

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