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- Why do patients have to pay for entertainment?
- What are SPARK TSL's plans to remove the patient pays model?
- Prices for entertainment packages
Why do patients have to pay for entertainment?
We understand the implications of asking patients/friends & family to pay for entertainment while in hospital. However, entertainment isn't a service that the NHS often funds. Back in the year 2000, the UK Government launched a Patient Power Initiative. This mandated that all major NHS hospitals should provide the personal Bedside Entertainment and Communications Systems (BECS) for patients by 2004. Patientline were one of three companies to be awarded a national license to provide (BECS).
Patientline shouldered the cost of the production & installation of 56 thousand Bedside Units, totalling around £150 million. The NHS couldn't pay this back, so an agreement was made, and the patients pays model was introduced.
This model carried on when Hospedia acquired Patientline in 2008 and is still running after WiFi SPARK acquired Hospedia in 2021. Although this initial cost has been paid off, the ageing technology still require old parts for repair. They are increasingly harder to get hold of and are more expensive because they aren't mass produced like they were 20 years ago. The Bedside Units are breaking more often requiring more money and attention. This results in the current cost for TV and other entertainment options going towards the cost of the service itself and maintenance of the units which covers 24/7/365 support, health and safety checks, replacement of parts and the engineers that repair the units.
If we remove the price over night, there would be no funding to run the service and thousands of patients across the UK wouldn't have access to basic entertainment such as TV. Hospitals can be lonely and isolating enough without distractions such as TV.
What are SPARK TSL's plans to remove the patient pays model?
We're on a mission to make Trusts realise the importance of free entertainment for patients in A&E, waiting rooms and on wards. Being free for patients means that the Trust and their charities will have to cover the cost instead. In the current climate, it can be a hard sell. This is why there are benefits to the Trust within our products. Whether it's supporting their campaigns, helping sign post patients, providing information and entertainment so patients are empowered to help themselves rather than rely on staff.
There are 2 main options for Trusts.
- Fund TV on the current Hospedia Bedside Units which equates to £1 per bed per day, rather than £7.90 per day that patients currently have to pay. This price difference is due to a lack of utilisation. The more patients that use the Bedside Units, the lower the price can be while still being able to maintain the service.
- Purchase the SPARK® Media, a patient entertainment and engagement platform that's free to end users. It's available as a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) solution or on our state-of-the-art Bedside Units. It provides easy access links to entertainment, hospital information and my care resources.
Prices for entertainment packages
There are several entertainment packages available depending on the technology. T2 Bedside Units have a remote control (Left image). T3 Bedside Units are touch screen (right image)
Before purchasing, it’s important to know about the following free entertainment options.
Free TV: 6am to 12pm for Adults and 7am to 9pm for Children.
Free Hospital Radio: 24/7 and includes the local Hospital Radio.
Patients can purchase a package through the Bedside Unit screen (more details here) or by calling our 24/7/365 call centre on 0345 414 1234.