United Kingdom
This article was added by the user Anna. TheWorldNews is not responsible for the content of the platform.

Families phoning loved ones on a ward face paying more than crooks ringing home

Families calling loved ones on hospital bedside phones face paying nearly five times more than prisoners ringing family and friends from jail after inmates benefited from a hefty price cut.

Charges levied to prisoners making phone calls via wing payphones have reportedly been slashed by 50 per cent in a change agreed between HM Prison Service and service provider BT.

Costs of calling landlines during the day have been slashed from 6.33p per minute to 3.1p per minute, and from 5.62p per minute to 2.75p per minute at weekends, Inside Time, the newspaper for prisoners, reported.

The disparity in charges has angered campaigners for the elderly who say older patients are less likely to have their own mobiles to contact family 

Meanwhile, Hospedia, which provides bedside telephones and entertainment systems for hospital patients at 130 NHS sites, charges 13p per minute for people calling patients from an outside line.

The disparity was attacked by campaigners for the elderly, who say older people are more likely to rely on landlines and use the bedside phones rather than mobile phones – which can be brought into hospital by patients.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices campaign group, said: ‘The relatives calling in and patients themselves may be old folk who rely on landlines.

‘If there’s a case for prisoners to have cheaper calls, there’s certainly a case for those calling hospital patients.

'Older patients or their loved ones may not have a mobile phone, so their family would have to use the bedside phone. These charges need to be looked at.’

Hospedia says the 13 pence charge is set by network operators and it does not make any money from the fees.

It added that patients can make free outward calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, and mobile phones.

It is understood the price cut for jail phones is ‘intended to make pricing fairer for prisoners, by bringing the cost of calling from wing payphones into line with the cost of calling from in-cell phones’.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices campaign group, said: ‘The relatives calling in and patients themselves may be old folk who rely on landlines'

Inside Time said that ‘in recent years, fixed-line phones offering cheaper calls have been installed in more than 60 per cent of cells.

Prisoners without in-cell phones were doubly disadvantaged – having to queue for phones on landings, then having to pay more for their calls’.

The changes to phone pricing in prisons has also meant the cost of calling a mobile phone has fallen from 14.08p per minute to 6.88p per minute on weekdays, and from 9.18p per minute to 4.8p per minute at weekends.

The Ministry of Justice said prison telephone services are important to retain family ties, which has been ‘shown to cut reoffending by 40 per cent’.

An MoJ spokesman said: ‘The cost of prisoner calls is not being subsidised by the taxpayer.’

A BT spokesman said it was ‘not responsible for setting the rates’ adding it was ‘within the remit’ of HM Prisons Service.