New guidance issued today (6 January 2009) by the Department of Health says NHS trusts in England should consider allowing more liberal use of mobile phones.
The updated guidance indicates that trusts should consider giving patients, staff and visitors the widest possible use of mobile phones, where it doesn't interfere with equipment, the privacy of others or cause a nuisance.
The new guidance stipulates that mobile phone use should continue to be restricted in areas where critical care equipment susceptible to electromagnetic interference is used. Areas where phones should not be used should be clearly indicated so that patients and staff are fully aware.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "Close support and comfort from loved ones when you are poorly in hospital is essential. Mobiles phones are commonplace in everyday life these days and people have told us that they'd like to be able to use their phones more in hospital to keep in touch.
"That's why we're keen to encourage sensible use in NHS hospitals where it is safe to do so, in addition to other services offered in hospitals such bedside payphones, TV and internet access."