If you have to go hospital soon for a planned visit which will see you having to stay in the there for a few days, then you will no doubt be aware that it can sometimes be difficult to communicate with friends and family.
Many hospital beds feature an entertainment system of sorts with integrated telephone, but the problem is you have to pay quite a lot of money each day to use such systems, and if your friends and family want to call you, they can often end up having to call expensive 0844 numbers to reach you directly at your bed.
Last year, an article by a national newspaper reported that patients using such systems could easily spend up to £10 a day just to call people and watch some TV! If you have a long stay at the hospital, this can easily cost you quite a lot of money – something which many hospital patients will not have a lot of.
This can result in a rather sad, depressing and boring stay for patients at the hospital, especially if friends and families of those patients refuse to call the 0844 numbers that are linked to their telephones.
Such calls cost anything up to 5 pence per minute from a landline, so a 20 minute phone call could cost those people £1.00 – a ridiculous price to pay considering many people have free minutes on their mobile phone plans, or free calls from their landline phone packages!
So, to avoid the downsides associated with hospital-provided telephone systems, here are some alternatives which are far more affordable for patients.
The first and most obvious choice for patients is to simply use their mobile phones! Most wards in hospitals allow you to use your mobile phone in corridors or other public areas, with many allowing you to use them by your bed if you’re not next to any monitoring equipment or ventilators etc. (as they can interfere with them, apparently).
Even if you don’t have a mobile phone, you can buy them for as little as £10, and there are plenty of pay-as-you-go options which make calling from them much cheaper than say using a payphone in the ward, for example.
Many pay-as-you-go tariffs even offer you free calls to other mobile users on the same network, so if your family and friends mostly use one network then it makes sense to use that one too.
Another alternative is to use VoIP. Examples of such systems include Skype, and can be used either on a laptop or tablet over a Wi-Fi or mobile data link, or they can be used on a smartphone like the Apple iPhone. The beauty about VoIP is that they are often much cheaper than using mobile phones, and they work like the telephone systems hospitals use (i.e. using an Internet connection).
Some smartphone apps such as Viber let you make and receive free calls as long as the other person is also using the Viber app on their smartphone, which can help you to save costs even further!