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Patientline welcomes Ofcom news

? Patientline is pleased to announce that Ofcom has closed its investigation into incoming call charges without finding any infringement by Patientline and without requiring any remedial action.

? Ofcom’s report exonerated Patientline of any unilateral action leading to high incoming call charges which it attributes to a ‘complex web of Government policy and agreements’

? The Department of Health has agreed to review how the services are provided to see whether they can be delivered without charging high incoming call charges. Ofcom is writing to the Secretary of State for Health setting out its concerns.

The board of Patientline plc welcomes Ofcom’s decision to close its Competition Act investigation. Patientline concurs with Ofcom’s view that the high level of charges is a consequence of Government policy, including the terms of the licence set by the Department of Health.

The licence requires that:

? The bedside systems are installed and operated at no cost to the NHS
? Systems are installed at every bedside even when uneconomic
? Key patient services are provided free of charge
? Providers install sophisticated, state of the art technology, capable of delivering clinical and administrative services for the NHS.

Derek Lewis, Chairman of Patientline, said: ‘We welcome today’s statement from Ofcom which recognises that Patientline’s charges have been dictated by the structure of the Government’s programme. We have long wanted to reduce the burden currently placed on the relatives and friends of patients in funding this service. Ofcom has concluded that ‘providers have been forced to turn to incoming call revenues in order to recover their costs of installation and operation’.(1) We will continue to work with the Department of Health to secure a more appropriate method of funding for this important NHS service.’

The Patient Power programme has been a major success in bringing services to over 75,000 NHS bedsides and millions of users. These innovative systems have the capability of delivering a wide range of services to patients and clinicians. Patientline will continue to work with the DOH to encourage wider use of these services to improve patient care and facilitate a more equitable funding structure.

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