Ban lifted on use of mobile phones in England hospitals

January 7th, 2009 - 3:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 7 (IANS) The government has lifted the ban on use of mobile phones in hospitals in England, though they will continue to be restricted in intensive care units, the chemotherapy and children’s wards.Health minister Ben Bradshaw said the health trusts should produce a clear written policy on the use of mobile phones, recognising that they are commonplace and can provide comfort to patients and relatives, The Times has reported.

Hospitals will now follow guidelines - already in place in Scotland and Wales - on the use of phones inside the premises as long as they do not carry any specific risk to equipment, compromise privacy or cause a nuisance.

The guidelines will also highlight specific risks from the use of camera phones - in particular that they may be used to take inappropriate pictures of children, of patients in private places such as bathrooms or to record confidential or sensitive information about them.

The lifting of the ban, imposed in the 1990s, comes after studies found that the risk of a signal interfering with medical equipment was low.

The study was carried out by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. It concluded that mobile phones were no more of a threat than televisions, radios and other electronic devices, and interfered with only four percent of medical devices, such as specialist equipment typically used away from general wards.

Moreover, patients have regularly been complaining about the high costs of making or receiving calls from bed-side pay phones.

The British Medical Association said there were also strong arguments for doctors to have mobile phones, to improve communication and care.

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