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FactCheck: TV charges at Selly Oak?

Updated on 21 October 2009

By Channel 4 News

The BNP claims wounded soldiers at Selly Oak hospital are being charged to watch television in hospital. Not so, finds FactCheck.
Nick Griffin

The claim

"Young British soldiers with no legs in Selly Oak hospital - some of them black, some of them white - they charge them to watch television."
Nick Griffin MEP, Channel 4 News, 21 October 2009

The background

The British Legion has asked BNP leader Nick Griffin to stop wearing a poppy, the symbol of remembrance and the annual armed forces charity appeal.

But the north-west MEP told Channel 4 News last night his poppy stayed put until the veterans group got involved in a campaign to stop wounded soldiers being charged for watching television in hospital.

British soldiers were, he claimed, having to pay to watch television at Selly Oak hospital, where the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine (RCDM) is based.

The analysis

Civilian NHS patients at Selly Oak do have to pay to watch television, so a "pay-as-you-watch" card system is installed throughout the hospital.

Military patients use the same system, but are issued with media cards free of charge.

The RCDM's patient welfare fund (funded by charitable donations) pays for the TV cards, and gives military patients a £10 card every three days.

Three days' television at Selly Oak would cost £9.50 - so there's no way that it wouldn't be covered.

The card can also be used to make phone calls, so it's possible that the credit could be used up in this way.

However, military patients shouldn't be limited by this. We were told by an MoD spokesperson based for the medical units that bed-bound patients at Selly Oak were treated on a case by case basis and issued with as many media cards as they were expected to need.

If someone ran out, their military liaison officer could give them extra cards, free of charge. Someone using the telephone a lot (say, a Commonwealth soldier with relatives abroad) would be issued with a free mobile phone.

Laptops with "dongles" are also given to military patients on request, if they want to access the internet, for free.


In any case, if a military patient was charged, they would get the money back. "If a military patient has any reason to pay for TV cards or dongles out of their own pocket, they are reimbursed," the MoD said.

The verdict

Griffin's been tuned into the wrong television channel - military patients don't have to pay to watch television (or use the internet, or make phone calls) while they're being treated in Selly Oak hospital.

Although the hospital has a pay-as-you-go scheme installed for NHS patients, military patients are given paid-for TV cards free of charge.

If they do spend more on television or internet - something the MoD thought would be the exception rather than the norm - they are reimbursed for the cost.

FactCheck rating: 4.5

How ratings work

Every time a FactCheck article is published we'll give it a rating from zero to five.

The lower end of the scale indicates that the claim in question largerly checks out, while the upper end of the scale suggests misrepresentation, exaggeration, a massaging of statistics and/or language.

In the unlikely event that we award a 5 out of 5, our factcheckers have concluded that the claim under examination has absolutely no basis in fact.

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