Hospital ‘phone charges
“extortionate” – watchdog
by David Skentelbery
CALL charges for hospital bedside phones are ?extortionate? according to a Warrington-based patients? watchdog group.
Patients are being charged as much as 49p a minute for calls ? leading to additional suffering and worry for both patient and loved-ones as they count the cost of each call.
A survey carried out by the Commission for Patient & Public Involvement in Health has shown great dissatisfaction among patients about phone charges.
The PPI is to tell the Department of Health, NHS Trusts and hospital phone system providers such as Patientline, Hospicom and Premier that costs are too high.
Brian Miller, from North Cheshire Hospitals PPI Forum, said: “Whilst many of the patients we spoke to welcome the convenience of the system, this was countered by a very strong belief that the charges were exorbitant.
?Those we surveyed also believed that the patient is being penalised, exploited at a hugely vulnerable time in their lives. We also noted that while evidence has shown that mobile phones do not cause problems with medical equipment, hospital Trusts often prohibit their use giving the patient no choice but to use the expensive bedside systems.” More than 78 PPI forums across the country took part in the survey ? the biggest ever of its type ? as part of the ?Fair Talk? campaign, launched last month.
More than 1,200 patients and hospital visitors were spoken to.
The campaign was launched after complaints were made to a number of PPI Forum members by people concerned that patients were being exploited by a system from which they were supposed to benefit.
In particular, PPI Forums were anxious that those on a fixed income, or regular in-patients would be either left in debt through using the system, or isolated because they couldn’t afford to use it and are given no alternative.
Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed believed the costs were expensive or ?very expensive? and believed NHS Trusts should ?reverse the charges.? The highest charges came at more than 100 hospitals where Patientline is installed. They charge 39p a minute off peak and 49p a minute at all other times for inbound calls.
One patient was charged ?10 for a call ? more than a call to Australia.
There were also complaints about the cost of having television ? up to ?480 for six months.
Paul Siddall, CPPIH area manager said: ?”These findings finally give PPI Forums the evidence to back up what patients had been telling them anecdotally. They need to be commended for doing such as excellent job in such a tight timescale. But even more so, by completing such a valuable piece of work for patients at a time when the future of PPI Forums is under review.
PPI Forums are independent statutory bodies, set up by the Government to provide a voice for patients and local communities in all health decisions and services. There is one PPI Forum per NHS Trust, but currently the Department of Health is reviewing them and a decision on their future is expected soon.
Anyone interested in joining a PPI Forum can call 0845 120 7111 or visitwww.cppih.org/
Police to use off-road
bikes to catch crooks
by Terry Johnson
BRITISH Transport Police are to use off-road motorbikes to hunt down criminals who put trains and passengers in peril.
The Suzuki DRZ 400 bikes just delivered to rail police will target ?hot spots? on the network – like the Warrington line at Winwick Junction where thieves cut through trackside copper cables on two successive nights, causing signalling chaos and 105 trains delayed.
Transport Police said they were amazed at the risk taken and the danger caused by thieves to rail passengers and staff.
Officers are now going on the offensive, with the North-West’s first motorbike patrols of high-speed lines served by 25,000-volt cables.
Said Chief Inspector Graham Bamford: “We are going to use these motorbikes to target areas we have had extreme difficulty reaching in the past.
“We want to arrest more offenders and make others think twice before they commit crimes”.
More than 200ft of cable was stolen in the first raid at Warrington, causing 46 trains to be delayed and disruption to West Coast mainline services. On the second night, 59 trains were halted by a six-hour line failure after cabling was cut.
Brownies earn “young
by John Hendon
EIGHTEEN Culcheth Brownies have earned themselves “young crimefighter” badges.
The children, aged between seven and 10, successfully completed community tasks over three weeks – including a play which focused on personal safety and making posters dissuading against vandalism.
Their posters are displayed at Culcheth village library where the Brownies received their badges from group leader, Ann Mills and Helen Hamer.
Said Ann: “It’s important for the girls to know who their local officers are. It was reassuring for them to meet PCSO Dodd so they know who they can go to for help and advice, if needed”.
PCSO Steve Dodd added: “The Brownies learned a great deal about crime reduction – including how to protect their home from burglary, what to do if approached by a stranger and how to keep their possessions safe”
Wannabe singing stars
get a chance to record
by staff reporter
WANNABE singing stars are to be given the chance of ‘cutting’ their own CD and video.
Cinnamon Brow Community Theatre, Fearnhead is to run heats for Warrington musical talent next month, then again in September-October.
A personal song, demo CD and pop video are on offer, says project co-ordinator, George Greenall, who plans a singing final in November.
Age groups to be considered are eight-12 and 13-18.
The song contest organiser can be contacted on 01706-839383.
Students will take
to the catwalk
by Terry Johnson
STYLISH college students will be strutting their stuff at a fashion show in Warrington on tomorrow (Tuesday).
They take to the catwalk at Warrington Collegiate in aid of SPARC.
The ‘Towards Independence’ students will model clothes by Matalan in the college Lecture Theatre, from 7.30pm.
Tickets, ?3, include a buffet, from Catherine Mannion: 01925-494494.
Then on Thursday(May 18) hair and beauty students will trace fashion trends from Stone Age to modern day, together with a peak at the future.
Tickets, ?3, bought on the door or in advance, will help Cancer Research UK. Call Helen Chorley: 01925-494494.
Library plans a trip
around the world
by John Hendon
A WHIRLWIND, multi-cultural journey around the world starts in Warrington on Saturday, May 20.
The inspiring journey is planned by the town’s Library, Museum and Archives Service, from 11.00am-3.00pm.
It is a celebration of Adult Learners’ Week, Museums and Galleries’ Month and 150 years of LMA activities in Warrington.
The fun-packed event is free and gives parents the chance to share their learning with families…by following a unique trail through the library and museum.
This learning ‘footprint’ leads through Asia, Egypt and Africa.
There will be exotic ‘carved earth’ workshops and hands-on exhibits – including the chance to try on a Sari.
Computers will take the exploration to historic landscapes and places.
And organisers promise that for those taking part, there will be a free ‘goodie-bag’.
The event starts at the Central Library, Museum St. Further details: 01925-442732.