Anger over Doncaster hospital TV costs

Doncaster Royal Infirmary
Doncaster Royal Infirmary
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Patients at Doncaster Royal Infirmary are being charged up to 42 times more to watch television than inmates at the borough’s prisons.

While those on wards at the hospital are being asked to stump up £6 a day for their screen time, which would work out at £42 a week, inmates in Doncaster, Moorland and Lindholme prisons are paying only £1 a week.

Hospital bosses say they do not set the charges.

But the contrast has sparked concerns at the very highest level, with the Prime Minister describing the situation in the borough as ‘frustrating’.

Conservative MP Philip has urged Prime Minister David Cameron to justify the situation after finding out the cost at the DRI when his brother was a patient there.

He asked Mr Cameron to justify the difference, and asked him what he was going to do about it.

The situation has also angered Mr Davies’ father, former Mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies, who visited his other son in hospital during the same stay, and said it was the first time he had discovered the high cost of hospital television.

He did not want to name his son who had been ill.

He said: “You can’t even choose what hours you have after you have paid your £6. Once you have paid, it runs all the way through and you can’t stop it and watch some later.

“He was in both Doncaster Royal Infirmary and the Northern General in Sheffield. You have to pay like this in both of them.

“Once there used to be a hospital comforts fund, which paid for things like television in hospitals. I don’t know what has happened to that. It feels like the health service is becoming a money grabbing machine when you see things like this.

“I think it is a disgrace, quite frankly, when people in hospital are paying so much more than people in prison.

“It surprises me the public accepts this without complaining. It is completely and utterly outrageous. We pay enough in taxes on the NHS.”

PM Mr Cameron said as someone who had spent a lot of time in hospitals, he shared the Davies family’s frustrations.

“It was the last Government that introduced these charges on televisions in hospital in the year 2000,” he said.

“Many an hour I have spent battling with that very complicated telephone and credit card system that you have to try to make work.

“These are, I’m afraid, devolved decisions local hospitals can now make, but in terms of prisons the Lord Chancellor is doing something.

“He’s taking the unacceptable situation he inherited from the Labour Party, where you could take out a Sky subscription when you’re in prison, and saying ‘you can’t do that any more’ and making sure prisoners pay if they use the television.”

A spokesman for Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Doncaster Royal Infirmary, said: “All English hospitals had to agree contracts with external companies a number of years ago as part of Government plans to provide inpatients with access to bedside television and phones.

“These services are provided by external companies, not the NHS, and the prices are set by these external companies rather than the hospitals.”

She said the company that provides the bedside TV service in Doncaster offered a range of packages - £4 for 12 hours, £6 for 24 hours and £12 for three days.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman confirmed prisoners pay £1 a week to watch television.

She added: “That comes at no cost to taxpayers as prisoners pay for it themselves.”