Getting ready for work this morning I was watching Breakfast News, as you do, and saw this story about Patientline, a company who provide telephone and television service for hospital patients, and their decision to increase thir phone charges by 160%. But they say, the cost of a full package will fall, they say, to a mere £2.90 a day from the £3.50 a day it currently is.

The reason I say boo-hoo is because a representative form Patientline was on Breakfast News this morning, complaining that they’ve had to set up a lot of infrastructure and that they may fold if they can’t increase their phone charges. Ok, let’s take these points in some kind of daz-based arbitrary order:

  1. The infrastructure costs for this company must have been a known quantity as what is essentially a fixed cost. What kind of moron designed this business plan if they didn’t see these costs being something of an issue?
  2. People are vulnerable in hospital and want to stay in touch, so effectively any company who provides this service has their market over a barrel. Hiking charges in this way is simply exploitative. I remember just how angry I was at the amount of money I was being milked dry of when I had a hospital stay last December. I wasn’t alone.
  3. On a wider point though, just what is this company doing in a hospital, for God’s sake? The obession with free-market economics and PFI is coming to something of a sad pass when people who are ill, and in some cases actually dying, are being systematically robbed just to be able to do some of the things most of us now take pretty much for granted: the ability to make a phonecall and watch the TV or listen to the radio. Introducing the profit motive to this kind of activity just seems like a perfect example of how so-called market economics has lost its way.
  4. Any company who invested money on the basis of expecting to milk more profit than they are actually getting from exploiting the sick shouldn’t expect much sympathy when their bottom line is bad. Here’s the deal: I hope you sink like a stone and take your stinking rotten business model with you.

So, if Patientline are struggling to survive, perhaps you’ll forgive me if, in response, I refer you to the title of this post.


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