Friday, August 1, 2008

Patientline Revisited

The principle hospital bed-side telecommunications services company in the NHS has gone bust!

I wrote about Patientline several times last year when there was much criticism of their telephone and television charges. In April 2007 they raised their bed-side telephone outgoing charges from 0.10 pounds a minute to 0.26 pounds. Incoming calls were charged at 0.49 pounds a minute. And as I previously pointed out a regular telephone call is 0.03 pounds a minute. The state regulatory authority for telecommunications obliged them to reduce the bed-side outgoing call to 0.10 pounds a minute, but incoming could calls remained at 0.49 pounds a minute.

Patientline TV-viewing services were 3.50 pounds a day.

In spite of their exorbitant charges, the company has run up a debt of £90 million so on Friday last it put itself into"administration" (i.e. bankruptcy).

Good riddance to bad rubbish I say ... but there is a catch.

The creditors (three banks) have moved in, forgiven Patientline £35 million of debt and formed a new company, Hospedia, taking over the Patientline services.

However, it also aims to take over Patientline's only (but smaller) competitor Premier Telesolutions (which also provides bed-side telecommunications solutions),

The Patientline bank consortium, Hospedia, and the backers of Premier Solutions are awaiting the Office of Fair Trading (our trading regulatory organisation) for a decision whether they can cosy up in October.

So a two company market becomes a one company monopoly?

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