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Hospitals told to allow more mobile-phone use

Updated government guidelines say patients should be allowed to use their handsets wherever it is safe, but the proposals face opposition from an NHS workers' body
Written by Nick Heath, Contributor

Hospitals have been told to allow more patients to use mobile phones on their wards.

Updated government guidelines, issued on Tuesday, say hospitals should encourage patients to use their mobiles wherever possible, by putting up signs indicating where handsets can be safely used.

The Department of Health guidelines say mobile use should be allowed where devices do not interfere with equipment, the privacy of others or cause a nuisance.

Health minister Ben Bradshaw said the changes would benefit patients by allowing them to keep in touch while in hospital.

However, the changes have been criticised by the NHS Confederation, which represents workers across the NHS.

Nigel Edwards, director of policy for the NHS Confederation, said hospitals could be made more stressful by loud noise and annoying ringtones brought by the advent of mobiles.

"Doctors and nurses doing their rounds should not have to constantly wait for patients to finish phone calls and night-times on wards should not be disturbed by the chirruping of text messages," he said in a statement.

Hospitals are one of the latest havens from the mobile ringtone to come under threat and the move to allow phones on wards follows a decision by European regulators to pave the way for mobile calls on flights.

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