Hospital patients are being forced to watch a welcome message from Health Secretary Andrew Lansley on loop in hospitals. And to make matters worse, the only way they can turn him off is registering to pay £5 a day to use email, phone, and television services. Until then, the “bedside entertainment systems” which have been installed in about half of the NHS hospitals across the country will continue to play the subtitled message every three minutes.
Mr Lansley, who says “your care really matters to me” in the pre-recorded message, has admitted the experience could be “rather unnerving”, but defends the set-up which he insists is “useful” for encouraging feedback.
“They only have to see me once...” he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.”
"When people go into hospital, I hope one of the first things they realise is we want them to have as comfortable and as high quality a stay as possible.
“I want them to help join me in thanking the NHS staff and I particularly wanted to say if they had any feedback that would be really helpful,” he said.
However the patients are not happy. “It was eerie. Everywhere you looked there was Andrew Lansley. My mother-in-law had to keep topping up the machine just to escape him”, one told The Independent.
In some wards with multiple beds, the screens have the effect of a television showroom, with dozens of Lansleys staring down on the ill. While the screens can be turned around, some visitors have pointed out that this is difficult for some.
According to the PR company Tetra strategy the video will be seen by up to 10 million patients a year in over 150 hospitals.
But according to Hospedia, the company which runs the service and provoked fury in 2009 when they increased the daily cost of the system, the video can be switched off using a button on the front of the screen.
• Do you think any good will come out of this initiative?
• Why do you think this has been done now?