Asthma UK community forum

Staying in touch when in hospital

I was pondering this the other day when it was suggested to a friend I could not possibly have been in the RBH once because I was posting things on another forum and everyone knows mobiles are not allowed in hospitals! I take my lap top and 3G card in with me and unless I am in ITU I can access the web via the 3G card. It is an absolute life line to be able to keep in touch with people via forua, MSN and email. In Torbay you can not use your mobile anywhere but no-one seems to have worked the 3G card is the same thing. In Ealing you can use your mobile on the resp ward but not in HDU or ITU although they have allowed me to use the 3G card in HDU when I have been there for a while so long as I keep it quiet! RBH you can use the mobile and 3G card no problem. I know the general concensus of opinion is that mobiles do not disrupt machines unless they are very close and very sensitive hence the ITU ban so why on earth don't all hospitals just relax their policy and allow them like Ealing does? Ealing does ask you don't use them at night and that you remember there are others in the ward but apart from that there is no problem. Is it simply to do with their contracts with Pat Line etc or are some hospitals still living the dark ages? Don't they realise that being able to stay in touch with friends and family is really an important part of the recovery process?


7 Replies

I had a long chat with a patient line supervisor over problems when a friend was in hospital recently and I was told that when the hospital signs up for pateint line they have to agree that mobile phones are not used in the hospital thus making patient line the only service available. The chap was actually telling me how furious he was that some hospitals are breaking the contract by allowing patients to use mobiles to which my reply was that if the charges were not so bad and the service and relability was better we wouldnt need to but he wouldnt have it at all.


If i didnt have my phone last time i was in hospital i wouldve been soooo bored...The pat line tv had crashed so i spoke to a man and he said he couldnt send anyone to fix it until the following monday. At the hospitals i go to they let usually let me use my phone though it sometimes depends whos on the ward (if matron there phones are a huge nono)

Bex do 3g cards work?

If i bought a phone with 3G would that enable me to go on the interet on my laptop?


I take my mobile in with me, I use it cos Im not able to use the payphone usually, and I find using patient line to tricky. As nearly everytime Im in hospital Im bought in following an acute attack I dont know how long Im going to be in for so I feel anxious about using patient line, if I know Im going to be in for more than a few days like following an ITU admission I sometimes use it, but I find accessing the internet from the screen exhausting as the buttons really annoy me. Also Ive found I cannot access MSN from it. The ward staff have been flexible about mobile phones I think, they prefer if you dont use them after lights-out. And yes lol in ITU they are meant to be banned but when I was there the staff were freely texting etc on them! :p I agree being able to keep in contact with friends and family is important as visiting hours Ive found are quite strict and for the rest of the day you can feel isolated and depressed something which my cons commented on saying I looked sad.. hmm.


Hi all,

I thhink you are right, Bex, I think it is absolutely vital for us to be able to keep in touch with our friends whilst on the ward, and I think our medical teams underestimate how important it is in keeping our spirits up.

I always have my mobile phone with me unless in ICU (they are okay with it in HDU) and have used my laptop and new posher WEP enabled mobile to connect to the internet in the past until I worked out how much it was costing me! (that RBH admission was an expensive one!). I don't really know what the official policy is, but they certainly all turn a blind eye at my local (well, to me, anyway, but then I did used to work there).

I think the reasons why some hospitals don't allow it are several. There were fears initially that it would interfere with equipment, although as you say, studies have shown that this is almost never a problem. I suppose also there is the noise factor - if every patient had a mobile with an audible ring tone that was going off all the time it would be quite a problem - but as long as we are all considerate I don't see that it is an issue.

The Patientline issue is significant, and something that makes me really angry. In the same way, TVs used to be available on the wards, as most people probably remember. Either they would be free - usually donated by previous patients or relatives - or you would be able to hire one for a minimal sum, usually a few pounds a week. When Patientline was put in, hospitals had to sign a contract to say they would no longer provide TVs. The whole thing stinks, really. I try to avoid using Patientline when I go in, by way of protest, but of course if it is a long admission and boredom is kicking in that becomes very hard to do!

I wish that doctors and nurses would realise, as you say, Bex, how important a part of the recovery process being able to communicate with the outside world is. When I had my prolonged admission earlier this year, because of what I had gone through, I was repeatedly screened by the staff for signs of depression, and I suppose if I had shown any I would have been asked to consider treatment with antidepressants. How much more useful in that situation to simply be able to keep in touch with friends!

Take care all



I haven't used my Mobile in hossie but have used pat line quite abit - have run up large bills in the past. It is wicked realy the costs, as often may older people don't know how to use them or are wary of them because of the costs.

I use it mainly for TV, interner accees and phoning Mum for clean knickers!

I didb't realise that Hosps had to sigh a no mobile contract for pat line - evil!

I don't own a lap top yet but when I do I will have it with me.

There was an article recenlty in New Scientist Magazine about Mobiles & Equipment. It only really has an effect if placed directly on the the equipment and can disrupt its workings - eg syringe drivers! Wonder if any of our problems have been caused by us havimg our mobils next to our sying drivers??

Anyway, It is Vital to keep in touch ... and sane too!


PS Perhaps we can send smoke signals with neb mist!


my local hosp has something called tele-call it only has tv and phone no internet this patient line thing sounds much more fun! i would love to be able to access the internet when in hosp wat is a 3G card would i access this via my laptop it sounds confusing!? i always feel sooo lost without the internet to keep me sane! my mobile has wap but thats just too fiddly and hard 2 read! someone also told me when i was in hosp recently u can get some sort of card that goes in your laptop and u connect an areial and u can watch tv does anyone have one of them or am i confusing it with something else??? x


Clare, most hospitals have only the basic Patientline with phone and TV, it's only the newer ones that have internet too. My local has phone and TV only, but the other big hospital in my city, which I ended up in once last year, has the internet Patientline, which also has a few card games on it.

It's very very fiddly to use as it has a tiny keyboard hardly bigger than a mobile (almost impossible if you have a tremor), has the habit of booting you out and losing what you've written if you press one wrong button (which is conveniently located next to the right button), is very expensive and will not access some sites.

The 3G cards are quite good - I did get one last year but returned it within the 14 day cool-off because I decided I couldn't really justify the expense. As I understand it, it's a card with a sim card in it which inserts into the side of the laptop. The Vodaphone one offers unlimited fairly high speed use for a flat £30 a month. Of course the downside of that is that it would be a bit of a waste of money for someone who had infrequent or unpredictable admissions. It certainly would have been a blessing for me in 2006, as I had monthly admissions, some of which where I would be in for quite a while but would not be too poorly to use the internet. It would have been a complete waste of money this year, as the only lengthy admission I had, I would have been too unwell to use it for the majority of the time.

My posher mobile phone (I have two for daft reasons of bad planning) does allow me to connect to the internet via my laptop - it's pretty pricey though. I can pay a flat amount per month for a set volume of use, or I can pay-as-I-go. I managed to run up a bill of over £150 in a ten day RBH stay (and 3 days of that was in ICU when I couldn't post anyway). So not the best solution either.

I guess the answer would be, if you do have repeated hospital admissions, to phone your internet and/or mobile provider and ask them which option would best suit your situation and pattern of admissions. Bear in mind that anything you sign up to should have a cooling-off period if you later decide that it is not the best package for you.

Hope this helps, but I am by no means an expert, so if I have got some of the info wrong, someone please step in and let me know!



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