If, like we did last week, you find yourself in hospital, fear not my gadget friend there is hope. Why? Because the NHS has installed a Windows XP computer over every bed and called it Hospicom.

So what do you get while your resting up? Well there is access to the Internet, email via Hotmail, AOL or Yahoo, games, TV, video on demand, radio and even the ability to make phone calls.

To access virtually every feature will cost you and you have to load up a smart card with money to get started from one of the pay machines dotted around the hospital - it’s a bit like one of those parking stations at a car park.

Prices vary depending what you are doing, but it costs £3 for 24 hours of television access, however you do get one hour free every day between 12pm and 1pm so you can watch some television with your lunch.

Rather than just give you channels 1 to 5, you also get access to Freeview channels E4, BBC Four, BBC Three, ITV 2, ITV 3, and BBC Parliament.

In addition to the television channels you also get access to a very limited selection of videos on demand. Don't get excited however expecting the latest cinema greats, with video on demand selections including titles like On Golden Pond, Brief Encounter and Sophie's Choice, it's clear who these are aimed at.

The games offering on Hospicom likewise aren't the latest episodes of Half-Life or The Sims, but Solitare, Backgammon and Minesweeper and these will cost you 20p per hour to play.

Internet access is cheaper than most hotel's or internet cafés and at only a £1 a day probably the best value for money compared to everything else. Those still not happy about paying can access a couple of websites free of charge including the BBC local site for the area you are in, the NewsNow.co.uk homepage, although not the stories themselves, and a TV guide.

If you're really trying to spend no money, the system has four radio stations, all of which are free. Again the selection is geared towards the older generation; Radio 2, Radio 4, Classic FM and the local radio station for the area. You can't choose any other option and there is no Radio 1, no Kiss FM or anything else geared towards the younger generation.

With visiting times short in hospital, one of the biggest features of the Hospicom, is the telephone. Every bed gets its own number which you can dish out to other people so they can phone you, while you can use the phone to phone anyone in the world. Prices vary and there is a list of prices available. While expensive, it's surprisingly not that expensive compared to what you might expect.


Hospitals are boring places, and for the 2 days we were there it certainly made the time go faster.

If we are being critical, it would have nice if the system included video on demand films and radio stations aimed at a younger audience, but then something is better than nothing.