• Trust CEOs have criticised Hospedia for asking patients for fees for access amid the coronavirus crisis
  • Hospedia said it cannot waive fees because it needs to pay staff and cover fixed costs
  • Scottish government has struck deal to fund access centrally

Three NHS trust chief executives have heavily criticised communications provider Hospedia for continuing to charge patients to watch television during the coronavirus pandemic.

University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust chief executive Tracy Bullock said her organisation had wanted to reduce the cost to patients of watching television during a time when they are allowed no, or very few, visitors due to concerns about spreading the virus. She described the response as “disappointing” and said the company had still wanted a “substantial fee”.

“We are now exploring alternatives”, she continued, “So far Hospedia are the only company I know who will not come out of this pandemic with their reputation intact.”

In response to Ms Bullock, Bradford Teaching Hospitals FT chief executive Mel Pickup said: “Same here Tracy, when everyone from small local businesses to large multinationals are falling over themselves to support our national efforts against Covid. Hospedia demanding money for TV access for patients who can’t even have visitors is pretty reprehensible.”

Ann James, CEO for University Hospitals of Plymouth FT, also said her trust was “looking into alternatives.”

The Hospedia recently agreed to a funding deal with the Scottish Parliament over services it provides to six hospitals across the country. 

When asked by HSJ if a similar deal was under consideration for English NHS trusts, an NHS England spokeswoman said: “It is disappointing that at a time when so many people and organisations are doing all they can to support the NHS and the wider national effort to get through the greatest public health challenge in a century, some patients are being charged to speak to their loved ones and vice versa.”

Hospedia has also been recently criticised for refusing to waive fees for patient phone lines. 

In response to HSJ, Hospedia said: “We have always sought to make our service affordable and accessible…TV is free of charge from 8am until noon on adult wards and from 7am till 7pm on children’s wards, every day.”

“We cannot waive our charges because we need  to pay our staff and cover fixed costs such as network and telephone services. Many of our team are working inside hospitals at the bedside on a daily basis, keeping the service operational so patients can stay connected,” a spokesman added.