A message from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is being played on loop to patients at Lewisham University Hospital on their bedside televisions.
The hospital’s patients are among the 50,000 in England subject to Lansley’s broadcast, which repeats every three to five minutes until patients register with the service or switch off.
Croydon University Hospital and the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel are also equipped with the patient TV systems provided by Hospedia.
On screens throughout these hospitals, Lansley states he will take “a few moments” to say how much the patient’s care whilst at the hospital “really matters” to him. He also asks the patient to thank staff looking after them.
Patients register for free and may then purchase ‘bundles’ of TV, telephone, game and internet services. These range from £2.50 for two hours to £35 a month.
While the screens are powered from a wall box and cannot be unplugged, Hospedia says there is a simple off button on the front of each unit.
A spokeswoman for Hospedia said: “The video is there to give patients an opportunity to give their feedback about the NHS”. The company have so far received no complaints about the message from patients.
The message has played since last year, but came to new attention when patients contacted the Independent and Lansley phoned in to the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme.
Lewisham health activist Jos Bell, of SOS NHS, stayed in Lewisham University Hospital in late 2009. She said whilst she agreed patients should be able to give feedback easily, “the thought of wall to wall secretary of state whilst you are in your hospital bed is quite shocking”. She added she didn’t think a politician should be a “screensaver over a hospital ward”.
Lewisham University Hospital installed the system in 2004, while Lansley’s message, recorded late last year, supersedes a similar one by Labour health secretary Andy Burnham.
Hospedia also offers advertising space on their screens, boasting “a potential audience of up to 10 million patients” per year.
Hospedia said it selects clients carefully, and told EastLondonLines they had turned down a number of personal injury lawyers who had wanted to buy advertising with them.