Watching television in South Australian hospitals is more expensive than if you’re behind bars, according to a series of surveys conducted by Council on the Ageing (COTA).
COTA SA chief executive Jane Mussared said it was “extraordinary” patients were reportedly paying as much as $13.75 a day for TV access, compared to “nominal” TV fee for SA prisons thought to be “significantly less” than $50 a year, Adelaide Now reports.
“(Older South Australians) are telling us that to pay almost $14 a day for something that once upon a time you’d have expected to get for free – and to keep in touch with the world while in hospital – is extraordinary ... it is a sizeable cost,” she said.
Provided by Telstra, the hospital “entertainment package” includes access to movie channels, internet and phone calls inclusive of long distance and mobile phone.
Hospitals charging for the package are Royal Adelaide, Queen Elizabeth, Lyell McEwin, Flinders Medical Centre, Women’s and Children’s, Modbury, Noarlunga, Port Pirie, Port August, Whyalla and Mount Gambier.
Public hospital patients exempt from paying for the service include those receiving chemotherapy treatment or in palliative care, alongside people who are under 18 years of age.
The Adelaide Advertiser reports regional hospitals provide free-to-air television access at no additional cost.
Health Minister Peter Malinauskas told The Advertiser the $13.75 daily fee to patients was “cost price”.
“SA Health does not raise revenue from the arrangement with Telstra,” he said.
“The fee for use is entirely for the service, which includes all movie channels, streaming movie channels, digital TV channels, selected radio channels, internet, local telephone calls and various amounts of long distance and mobile phone calls.”