HOSPITAL chiefs have been accused of exploiting the sick after a patient paid £82 to watch television for four days.
Rhona Beattie hoped that watching TV would distract her from the severe pain she was experiencing while a patient at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
But the mum was sickened to discover the pay-as-you-view service had cost her on average £20.50 per day to use.
Although a week’s access is available for £40, Rhona had no idea how long she would be in for a chose to pay per day.
Although an NHS hospital, the ERI was built and is run by the private sector under a 30-year contract. Consort Healthcare insist that patients who want to watch television pay for the Hospedia TV service.
Rhona, from Musselburgh, East Lothian, wrote on social media: “I have been an in patient for eight days and in a lot of pain and discomfort.
“On day four, I purchased TV viewing. I am flabbergasted at the extortionate charges for viewing television and at a time when I as many other patients are suffering and feeling very vulnerable.
“Staring at the same four walls 24/7 and suffering a lot of pain is horrendous, TV helps.
“To date It has cost me £82.00. This blatant exploitation of sick and vulnerable patients needs to be addressed.”
The post has since been shared more than 200 times and attracted outrage from shocked users.
Chris Thomson said: “Something needs to be done about this. It’s an absolute disgrace what they charge for viewing tv considering there’s freeview everywhere else?
“I deal with patients coming home from the Royal a lot and I constantly hear complaints that some of the channels don’t work either.”
Janet Robertson wrote: “Totally disgusting.”
And Laura Fraser said: “I was in for eight days it cost a fortune.”
Scottish Conservative Lothian MSP Miles Briggs said: “This is a terrible way to treat patients.
“Staying in hospital is a miserable enough experience without having to fork out an extortionate amount to watch television.
“These private companies are simply preying on the sick for profit and surely NHS Lothian must look at this again?
“These charges are not benefiting patients or their families. Patients want to be stress free when they’re sick, not worrying about running up a huge bill to relieve the boredom of a hospital stay.”
A spokesman for Taxpayers Scotland said: “Despite being a private TV service, the NHS managers have a duty to protect their patients from being overcharged.
“Someone needs to revisit the contract and ensure that pricing is fair and doesn’t lead to anxiety for patients that could affect their recovery.
“A hospital visit can be scary enough without being fleeced over for wanting a distraction by watching the TV.”