(2) how many complaints she has received on the issue of hospitals charging excessively for the use of telephones by patients and public.
[holding answer 31 January 2007]: A number of private providers are responsible for installing and managing bedside telephone services and it is these providers, not the hospital themselves, that charge the user directly. The service is provided as a free good to the national health service and the contract is made directly between the patient and the service provider.
Hospitals can also provide patients with access to payphone facilities which attract the national standard rate charge applicable to the network(s) providing the service.
In the past two years, some 170 members of the public have written to the Department about integrated bedside television and telephone services. The number of complaints this correspondence may contain is not identified separately.