Hospedia respond to Noel Plumridge’s criticism of hopsital’s that outsource services, while the role of local councillors in scrutinising the NHS is highlighted

Private service providers add value

I was disappointed to read Noel Plumridge’s comments (‘Co-payments undermine the NHS’s claim to be “free”’), which suggest NHS care is not free at the point of delivery because of service providers such as Hospedia.

‘Our new services are being successfully piloted by hospitals across the country’

To the contrary, our entertainment offering is an optional service that hospitals do not profit from and is not part of the care provision cycle. We firmly believe our entertainment services provide patients with a valuable distraction during their stay in hospital and our wider services assist nurses and clinicians in their daily tasks and ease their workloads.

The entertainment services receive an overwhelmingly positive response from patients and we continuously review feedback, while seeking the right balance through our price structures to improve the overall patient experience.

Mr Plumridge would do well to note that the bedside terminals’ wider services offer hospitals the prospect of millions of pounds in efficiency savings and allow for more nursing time to be dedicated to frontline care instead of administrative paperwork, as well as empowering patients, as prescribed in the government’s vision for greater patient involvement and more patient choice.

Our new services, which include real-time patient feedback, clinical access, electronic meal ordering and bed management, are being successfully piloted by hospitals across the country and will ensure patients remain at the heart of the NHS.

Ben Packman, commercial, media and business development director at Hospedia

Scrutiny is different from inspection

Your stories on the Francis report raise several issues.

In many places scrutiny by elected councillors has proved an effective check and balance on healthcare strategy and performance. But we know it’s not perfect everywhere all of the time, just as there are examples of imperfect governance, management and practice in the NHS.

‘We urge councils and the NHS to embrace the value we know scrutiny can provide’

Robert Francis identified that it was difficult for anyone “on the outside” to check what was happening in Stafford Hospital. Despite shortcomings, scrutiny by local councillors remains an important part of the framework of health service accountability.

Mr Francis recognises this by making recommendations to strengthen health scrutiny. But health scrutiny is different from inspection by the Care Quality Commission or patient involvement through LINks (soon to be local Healthwatch).

We urge councils and the NHS to embrace the value we know scrutiny can provide and support and resource council scrutiny well. Everyone with a role to hold the NHS to account needs to work together to make sure they combine their powers and the information they gather so that stronger lines of accountability are developed for strategic direction and operational performance.

Tim Gilling, deputy executive director at the Centre for Public Scrutiny