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August 2, 2009 12:01 AM

The family of an elderly Gosforth man have spoken out after being hit with a bill of nearly £100 for TV and telephone services during his three-week stay at hospital.

They contacted Ron Beadle, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary spokesman for Newcastle North, to complain about the cost of Patientline at the Freeman Hospital.

Following a Freedom of Information request Ron Beadle has now discovered that Newcastle patients spent over £600,000 last year to access Patientline services at the city's three hospitals.

"This 89-year-old was hit with bill for nearly £100 just to watch television and use the phone during his stay in hospital," said Ron Beadle.

"Quite rightly his family are angry at this rip-off of a vulnerable, elderly man.

"The last thing any patient needs when coming out of hospital is to be hit with a large bill."

Ron Beadle is now calling on the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust bosses to renegotiate the Patientline package.

"I have discovered there is no significant discount for people who have to spend a long time in hospital - and there should be," he said.

"I have also found that many patients buy the daily £3.50 card thinking they can make a call and watch TV.

"In fact once they have made a phone call they need to pay more to access the TV.

"Patientline should have a card that allows people to make local calls and watch the TV."