Hospital TV charges a ‘turn-off’ for Fred

Unfair: OAP Fred Burbeary says paying for TV in hospital is a 'rip off' for patients.                  Picture: Steve Parkin.
Unfair: OAP Fred Burbeary says paying for TV in hospital is a 'rip off' for patients. Picture: Steve Parkin.

A PENSIONER confined to bed after a hip replacement operation claims he was ‘ripped off’ after being charged for 12 hours’ worth of television when he watched only five.

Fred Burbeary bought a £5 voucher while a patient at the Northern General Hospital which he believed would last for 12 hours.

The 68-year-old watched around five hours of TV that night - before switching the telly off to go to sleep.

He was under the impression he would be able to resume watching the following day, but then discovered the system - commissioned by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust from a company called Hospedia - meant all 12 hours had to be watched in one go.

The company said the information is displayed clearly on voucher vending machines.

Mr Burbeary, of Westfield, spent a further six days on Osborne Ward but refused to buy another voucher.

He said: “I think it’s really unfair that you have to watch it all in one go - it seems like a rip off to me.

“You appreciate the TV when you are in bed with nothing else to do, but the principle of it made me not want to buy another voucher.

“It’s not just me affected - there are hundreds of patients in the same boat - and if people haven’t got much money then a stay in hospital can get to be expensive.”

A Hospedia spokeswoman said: “All of our information for patients, including leaflets, vending machines and posters, indicate the packages are for continuous viewing.

“We apologise if Mr Burbeary did not find this information on this occasion and we will pass this feedback on to our marketing team.”

She said the system included free outbound landline calls, internet, and games as well as 25 TV channels, and 70 per cent of patients rated price packages as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value.

Phil Brennan from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals said: “We were statutorily required to install a patient entertainment and communication system to beds in our hospitals.”

n Opinion: P8