Families pay 50p a minute to call loved ones in hospital rip-off: Fees set by private firms mean an hour-long conversation costs £30 : Daily Mail.

  • The fees set by a private firm mean that a 20-minute conversation costs £10 
  • The company makes callers sit through a patronising, 70-second message
  • The system is run by the British-based telecoms giant Hospedia 

Anxious relatives who call patients in hospital are being forced to pay ‘rip-off’ charges of at least 50p a minute.

The fees set by a private firm mean that a 20-minute conversation costs £10 while an hour is £30.

In a further controversy, the company makes callers sit through a patronising, 70-second message before they are connected.

Anxious relatives who call patients in hospital are being forced to pay ‘rip-off’ charges of at least 50p a minute (Stock image)

Anxious relatives who call patients in hospital are being forced to pay ‘rip-off’ charges of at least 50p a minute (Stock image)

This gives them obvious instructions – even urging them to be ‘patient’ themselves in case their loved one is with medical staff – and means they have shelled out nearly 60p before the conversation has begun.

The system is run by the British-based telecoms giant Hospedia, which had revenue of £21.2million last year.

Hospedia also runs TV bedside services in hospitals, which cost up to £35 for five days of viewing.

The firm has contracts with 150 NHS hospitals and installs the system for free in return for pocketing all profits made from patients and relatives.

Ten years ago the watchdog Ofcom urged the government to review the fees amid concerns they were ‘disproportionate’ for families and friends.

Although the Department of Health considered putting pressure on the firm to reduce charges or allow callers to skip the recorded message, it later rowed back.

Rather than imposing an outright ban it told hospitals to enforce their own policies.

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