ET demonstrated a really human need


Hello Ms Featherstone

It was with mixed emotions that I read your comments regarding the lifting of the mobile phone ban in hospitals. Reason? - Although I fully agree that the cost of making phone calls in hospital are extortionate - I do not believe that mobile phones are the answer - we had ordinary payphones before the "designer media stations" now wheeled to the bedside. I have long campaigned for the warning contained in the DOH leaflet "Mobile Phones & Health" - that children under 16 years should be discouraged from using mobile phones - to be more widely circulated and, as is now happening in many other European countries - more vigorously enforced. Our children are our future - but they are being exploited by an Industry which is like a rampaging herd of elephants...perhaps a little OTT, but nevertheless, it is true to say that the precautionary approach has long disappeared out of the window.

It was most distressing to see the initial BBC report (It's always the Beeb who fill the news progs with technology titbits) from a hospital in Bath - direct from the Children's Ward - the Manager marvelling at how great this will be for the young patients (sweeping aside the one question regarding how they might deal with any anti-social use).

I have unfortunately had occasion to spend many hours in hospitals recently (as a visitor to several seriously ill relatives). I cannot count the times when mobile phones have been a scourge on these visits - we have had to suffer improper use by other visitors (one time five individual phones around one bed containing a heart attack victim), patients and even staff (a nurse left my sister-in-law's chemotherapy treatment to answer her mobile phone - which was in her pocket). We also heard recently of a nurse who was dismissed after serious neglect of a patient while making a 20 minute mobile phone call.

In my opinion - for what it is worth - is that the last thing ill people need is a constant barrage of loud phone conversations or ringtones (the worst example I can call to mind was at my brother-in-laws bedside shortly before he died in hospice - another visitor's mobile phone loudly emitting "The Adams Family" theme tune for the whole of the ward to hear. You would imagine the owner of the phone would be suitably apologetic...but instead they let it ring for a while - obviously finding it extremely amusing. Unfortunately, anyone else who does not see the joke are left to suffer in silence (as my Sister and I did) or to complain - and be no doubt accused of being a killjoy or technophobe.

I am neither - I am just someone who likes to live and let live - but this technology makes that absolutely impossible - it is systematically removing the rights of individuals in every conceivable situation.

I can understand your wish to address the problem of exploitation of hospital patients - but would like to ask you to consider the full implications of the alternative we are faced with.

Cllr Sylvia Wright


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