Fury over premium rate charges to phone patients

Juliet Adham and Luay Adham
Juliet Adham and Luay Adham

A FURIOUS grandmother has criticised the Conquest after her grandson was charged almost £50 through calls to his hospitalised girlfriend.

Juliet Adham, of Battle Road, St Leonards, pays for her grandson Luay’s monthly contract on his mobile, as well as her own.

She was shocked to discover several calls made to his girlfriend’s bedside phone during her hospital stay totalled £49.

Juliet said: “I was prepared to blow my grandson out of the ground, only to be told that these calls were made to his girlfriend in hospital. I was so livid. There weren’t many calls and they were only made over a five-day period. My grandson was very anxious, as his girlfriend had been taken ill. The surcharge was due to the phone calls being made to a premium rate number.”

She added each incoming call made to patients from relatives was ‘sabotaged by a lengthy voice message’ about charges, which callers had to pay for. Juliet said: “Why does management at the Conquest insist on using a supplier that charges high rates to friends and relatives of the sick?”

Hospedia provides the phone services for patients at the Conquest.

It costs between 60p and 65p per minute to call a patient using the service from a mobile phone and 50p per minute from a landline.

Simon Purkiss, hospital spokesman, said: “Hospedia provides telephone, television and radio services at the bedside for patients’ convenience. The trust receives no income from Hospedia. Each time a patient receives an incoming call the caller is informed of the charges. Hospedia understands this message can cause frustration, especially to repeat callers. We understand the company is working on ways to try and reduce the length of this message, in order to find a balance between providing the information it needs to provide and the need for the caller to get through to the patient as quickly as possible. This service is regulated, monitored and reviewed by Ofcom which has always been insistent that Hospedia does this to ensure that callers are aware of the charges for contacting patients.

“Hospedia is committed to reducing call charges and recently introduced new packages allowing patients to make free unlimited outgoing callers to landline numbers. Over the next two years it will be reducing its inbound charges.”