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My conversation with @Harkaway

Lord Drayson writes: You’ve reached my online notepad – a space I use to support Twitter and other conversations. You can follow @lorddrayson here

19 June 2009

Recently, I had the following exchange with fellow Twitter user @Harkaway:

Lord Drayson said: Brilliant innovators at NHS innovation expo today. Personal favourite was Andy Speechley of Independent Care Products.

Harkaway said: @lorddrayson Has anyone invented a patient phone which isn’t shamefully expensive?

Lord Drayson said: @Harkaway u mean payphones at the bedside in hospital?

Harkaway said:  @lorddrayson Yes. I seem to remember that they’re irrationally expensive. It always strikes me foul play. Cruel and opportunistic.

Lord Drayson said: @Harkaway Ok. Lets try an experiment. I will treat this as an As official” tweet to a Minister. (i.e. me) @BIS_Science #LDSciSurgey

Harkaway said:  @lorddrayson Ooh! Okay. Would you like me to do anything?
(This is *exactly* what excites me about twitter and government.)

Lord Drayson said: @Harkaway Nope. Lets just wait and see how the civil service system responds. @BIS_Science #LDSciSurgey.

We put this question to the Department for Health and have posted their response from a spokesperson below:

“Patients have made clear that they value the choice of using a personal telephone to remain in contact with family and friends and this service is available at around 80,000 NHS hospital beds. Most callers to patients are made aware of the charges by recorded announcement at the beginning of each telephone call and they have the option of continuing with the call or making a short call to the patient so the patient can make a cheaper outgoing call of 10p per minute.

“This service is free to the NHS and the firms contracted to supply the service pay the installation, maintenance and running costs.”

For more information about telephones in NHS hospitals, including the 2006 Ofcom review into the cost of incoming calls, see the Department of Health Estates and Facilities Management page.