Free TV announced for patients at three Nottinghamshire hospitals
Patients at three Nottinghamshire hospitals can access free television after the company that runs the bedside units waived charges.
Hospedia has granted free access to Freeview and Sky Sports for people at King's Mill Hospital, Newark Hospital, Mansfield Community Hospital.
Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said it was pleased, and thanked the company in a tweet on Wednesday. The daily cost is normally £7.90 and it costs more to add movies or sport.
But Hospedia, which also runs a phone service for hospital patients, has run into controversy for the price of their charges during the Covid-19 crisis.
Irene Simpkin, who was charged more than £11 for calling her 87-year-old mother amid a ban on visitors at in Southport and Formby District General Hospital, said Hospedia was "very greedy", the BBC has reported.
Hospedia's website says its operates in more than 130 NHS sites. It offers TV units, which attract a daily fee, and premium rate telephones at a patient's bedside. According to its latest accounts, profits increased nearly six-fold last year to more than £2.5m.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland tweeted on Tuesday that he had written to Hospedia requesting it "temporarily drop their charges, for patients affected by the current coronavirus situation."
Rosie Cooper, the Labour MP for West Lancashire and a member of the Health Select Committee, said: "It is scandalous that, at a time of a pandemic with thousands of patients admitted to hospital with coronavirus, that relatives and friends can be charged a fortune to phone the hospital and speak with their loved ones.
"Businesses across the country and in various sectors have made changes to reflect this period battling the pandemic yet Hospedia seem content for the public to be charged as much as £10 for a call to a patient due to their use of premium rate numbers."
Hospedia said: “Whatever you may have heard, patients can always make calls free of charge (to 01, 02 and 03 numbers and mobiles).
“Hospedia charges 13p per minute to call a patient’s phone. This is to cover running costs for 60,000 units in 130 hospitals by 200 staff.
“Charges over 13p/minute are made by your network operator and not received by Hospedia.”