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Jane Bates: Hanging on the hospital telephone

No matter how cash-strapped we are, should we really be hitting the purses of distressed relatives calling up to speak to loved-ones? 
Jane Bates

No matter how cash-strapped we are, we should not be hitting the purses of distressed relatives calling up to speak to loved-ones, says Jane Bates

When someone dear to you is admitted into hospital in an emergency, you are not in a calm frame of mind. You want news, and fast. But when you hit the hospitals switchboard the phone just rings and rings.

Frustrating messages

When it is answered you get a recorded message. By now you are using words you never thought would sully your lips, prompted by the lugubrious spiel which suggests the caller has rung the number because they have nothing to do.

You wonder if the words for monitoring and training purposes will be the last you will hear as you prepare to expire with frustration.

In-call donations

And the bedside telephone system. What can I say? Again, there is

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No matter how cash-strapped we are, we should not be hitting the purses of distressed relatives calling up to speak to loved-ones, says Jane Bates

When someone dear to you is admitted into hospital in an emergency, you are not in a calm frame of mind. You want news, and fast. But when you hit the hospital’s switchboard the phone just rings and rings.

Frustrating messages

When it is answered you get a recorded message. By now you are using words you never thought would sully your lips, prompted by the lugubrious spiel which suggests the caller has rung the number because they have nothing to do.

You wonder if the words ‘for monitoring and training purposes’ will be the last you will hear as you prepare to expire with frustration.

In-call donations

And the bedside telephone system. What can I say? Again, there is a long drawn-out recorded message, telling you how they are going to rip you off when you are at your most vulnerable. No, they don’t actually say that, they just ramble on interminably when you are desperate to get through, slipping in the outrageous cost of your call at the end. Then they ask for a donation.

We all know the NHS needs money but to charge so much is exploitation. The most comforting thing for a patient is to hear a familiar voice, yet it would swallow up half their weekly pension just to say hello, request a spare nightie and a copy of The People’s Friend.

Has something been overlooked in all of this? That we are human, for example? That folk calling hospitals are in distress? There are kinder ways of increasing funds than cutting back on call-handlers, and taking money from people in a crisis.


About the author

Jane Bates

Jane Bates is an ophthalmic nurse in Hampshire

 

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