The scheme, being proposed by Berkshire Healthcare NHS ( National Health Services) Foundation Trust, is intended to save money among relatives who receive travel expenses.
Mental health patients in Berkshire are due to be relocated from Ascot, Maidenhead and Slough to Reading.
Under the plans some relatives would qualify for travel expenses when they visit their relatives at the new unit.
But NHS bosses, who are trying to save £4 million a year, believe offering families alterative methods of communication, could help.
The proposals have not been warmly received by patients’ groups and mental health charities.
Julie Coole of Windsor Mencap said: “Skype would be a no-no for many elderly people who do not have a computer. The trouble is that people who are younger and work with computers forget that there is a community out there with people who may not have access to them.”
Eleanor Cryer of Slough Mencap said: “IT is taking over the world, but there is no substitute for holding hands at the hospital bedside.”
Source: Telegraph News