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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 11:03 GMT
Patientline boss faces quit calls
Patientline entertainment system
Patientline provides bedside phone and TV systems
The chairman of a firm which provides phone services for NHS patients is fighting to keep his job after a major investor slammed his performance.

Patientline boss Derek Lewis, once director general of the prison service, is under fire from Shore Capital, which represents 17% of shareholders.

Shore said Mr Lewis had presided over a "catalogue of problems" and must go.

Patientline has seen its value fall by 80% in 14 months, and chief executive Per Jonsson quit on Sunday.

Phones review

The group has attracted publicity after it was revealed that Ofcom was looking into the charges the company imposed on calls to hospital patients by their relatives.

There were complaints last year that people trying to phone sick relatives were charged up to 49p a minute peak and 39p a minute off-peak to call in.

Patientline has installed 75,000 multi-media systems at beds in 156 hospitals, offering television screens, internet access and telephones to patients.

We are extremely alarmed by the collapse in value that has occurred at Patientline and we believe urgent action is required to address it
Shore Capital

It was later cleared of wrong-doing by Ofcom, which said the firm was not profiteering and the high prices stemmed from the terms of the licences issued by the Department of Health.

In January, the Department of Health recommended a review of all aspects of the installation and operation of bedside telephone and entertainment systems in hospitals.

'Urgent action'

Despite being cleared, Shore Capital claimed Patientline's image had suffered "from the perception that its charges for incoming calls are extortionate".

In a statement to investors, Shore Capital added: "We are extremely alarmed by the collapse in value that has occurred at Patientline and we believe urgent action is required to address it."

Shore said Mr Lewis had been "ultimately responsible for the direction of the company which has brought it to its current state".

The investment group urged other shareholders to support its call to oust Mr Lewis and replace him with Shore Capital director James Douglas.

Meanwhile, Patientline said it had appointed Colin Babb as group managing director to succeed Mr Jonsson.




SEE ALSO:
Review of bedside phone charges
18 Jan 06 |  Health
Patientline hit by Ofcom inquiry
25 Jul 05 |  Business


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