PATIENTS on the wards at Poole Hospital have slammed the “disgusting” new charges for watching television in their beds.

The price for just a day’s worth of TV from Hospedia, formerly Patientline, has almost doubled from £2.90 for a 24-hour package to £5.

A three-day viewing package, previously charged at £7, will now cost the sick £10.

Hospedia, which also provides radio, internet and phone services to hospital beds, argues the TV package price now includes free outgoing calls.

But one patient, who has spent the last month in Poole Hospital and is about to undergo a major operation, told the Daily Echo the new charges were “absolutely disgusting”.

“It is atrocious,” said the woman patient, who asked not be named.

“They are ripping off the sick and vulnerable.

“It is ridiculous.”

A day’s TV at Bournemouth Hospital costs just £3.50, though outgoing calls do cost 10p per minute. A Poole Hospital spokeswoman said its new charges, introduced last month, were produced in consultation with patients.

Hospedia said its aim was to reduce phone charges by giving patients unlimited local and national calls.

It has been suggested the lifting of the mobile phone ban in hospitals prompted the company’s move, and patients who don’t need to use the phone service are suffering with the increased charge for watching TV.

But a Hospedia spokeswoman said: “The new packages have received an overwhelmingly positive response from patients.

“The outbound call service has proven particularly popular, with call volumes increasing by around 400 per cent.”

Hospedia acquired the running of more than 80,000 NHS bedside systems when Patientline went into administration last year.