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NHS Lothian to scrap 'extortionate' television charges

Patients at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary were charged £5 for two hours of viewing.

Charges: Patients had to pay to watch television.
Charges: Patients had to pay to watch television. Google 2019

NHS Lothian has moved to scrap "extortionate" charges to patients for watching television at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Patients were charged £5 for two hours of viewing, or £17.50 for three days.

Instead the health board is installing free Wi-Fi to enable patients to use their own mobile devices to watch television.

NHS Lothian has given Hospedia - a firm specialising in hospital communications - one year's notice that the contract will end.

Over the next 12 months, the health board has said it will continue to review its provisions, to ensure patients do not lose out.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Miles Briggs said: "I am pleased that the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary has finally introduced patient wi-fi at the hospital, despite it being due at the end of last year.

"The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary is one of the last hospitals in Scotland to introduce patient Wi-Fi and I am glad that patients can now benefit from it.

"I strongly agree with NHS Lothian's decision not to continue their contract with Hospedia, that is costing patients an extortionate amount of money to watch television."

Mr Briggs urged the health board to ensure alternatives were in place by the end of the contract.

George Curley, director of operations and facilities at NHS Lothian, said: "In August we provided a 12-month notice period of cancellation to Hospedia for their TV contract in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh.

"We are installing free Wi-Fi throughout the hospital and we believe this will be the most popular option to access entertainment and other communications.

"There are also televisions in certain areas of the hospital, including patient sitting rooms.

"Over the remainder of the notice period we will continually review the situation to see if other options need to be considered.

"Our priority is to make sure that patients do not experience any loss of access from their communication needs."

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