0844 number and GP

in Phones & TV
8 replies 1.1K views
I have just been checking through my elderly mother's phone bills. She has an all inclusive package with EE which should be a standard monthly charge. However there are frequent extra charges of between 50p and £1 for calls made to her GP's surgery which has an 0844 number which isn't included in her package.

Reading back through posts on this forum it seems as though GP's have been told to stop using 0844 numbers or they will be in breach of their contract - although the posts are confusing and I'm not sure I have got it right.

Could anyone clarify this please? And if they shouldn't be using these numbers who do I complain to?

I'm annoyed that my mum, who has a complex medical condition and is on a limited income, has to pay extra each time she calls the surgery for advice, a prescription or an appointment. Often she can be on hold for some time.

Thanks for any advice.


  • brightonman123brightonman123 Forumite
    8.5K Posts
    See if the surgery has a local rate number, via https://www.saynoto0870.com, or in a local directory?

    Idont think they should be using these type, anymore.. see http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-patients-calling-doctor-paying-1857870

    May be worth asking for a refund, if details of costs kept..
    Long time away from MSE, been dealing real life stuff..
    Sometimes seen lurking on the compers forum :-)
  • Thanks for your reply.

    There doesn't seem to be an alternative number.

    The Mirror article seems to be saying that the NHS is against them but accepts that some practices are locked into long term contracts with the phone providers.

    I think this is one to take up with the Practice Manager.
  • brightonman123brightonman123 Forumite
    8.5K Posts
    If its been around a long time, check old phone directories- may have the normal area code number!
    Long time away from MSE, been dealing real life stuff..
    Sometimes seen lurking on the compers forum :-)
  • flashg67flashg67 Forumite
    3.5K Posts
    Tenth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Photogenic
    I think June is D-day for businesses to change, but not sure if this applies to GPs surgeries?
  • poppasmurf_bewdleypoppasmurf_bewdley Forumite
    5.8K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper
    The local press is your friend if you don't get satisfaction from the practice manager.
    "There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe a 'Princess Coronation' locomotive in full cry. We shall never see their like again". O S Nock
  • HeinzHeinz Forumite
    11.2K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker Car Insurance Carver!
    The local press is your friend if you don't get satisfaction from the practice manager.
    You will probably get the standard "we don't make any money from the 0844 number" nonsense from the practice manager (they have been given a script to read stressing that falsehood). They are most likely benefiting from a free telephone system (i.e. goods, instead of money) and may even be taking up to 2p/minute from each call as well.

    When you go to the local press, stress:
    (1). the 'elderly patient on a pension'
    (2). 'long very expensive calls'
    (3). that calls to 0844 numbers are not included in calls packages so have to be paid for individually and, if a mobile is used, the cost can be up to 41p per minute (frequently just to listen to their endless voice messaging system).
    Time has moved on (much quicker than it used to - or so it seems at my age) and my previous advice on residential telephony has been or is now gradually being overtaken by changes in the retail market. Hence, I have now deleted links to my previous 'pearls of wisdom'. I sincerely hope they helped save some of you money.
  • shammyjackshammyjack
    2.7K Posts
    It is possible that they have complied with the proposed legislation but have not updated the information to their patients .

    Try ringing the same number but substitute 0344 for the 0844 .
  • edited 12 April 2015 at 8:56PM
    Ian011Ian011 Forumite
    2.4K Posts
    1,000 Posts Fifth Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited 12 April 2015 at 8:56PM
    GP Contracts in England and Wales were amended in April 2010 to ban the use by GP practices of telephone numbers which cost more to call than 01 and 02 numbers. This ban covered 084 and other numbers. These numbers had to be changed by April 2011.

    A specific ban on the use of 087 and 09 numbers by GP practices had been put in place in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2005. As a result of that earlier ban, most practices moved to 0844 numbers after receiving assurances that these were "local rate" calls. Ofcom warned in 2005 that this was not the case.

    GPs in England and Wales largely ignored the 2010 ban. Indeed, over the next three years hundreds more adopted new 0844 numbers. Various dubious call cost claims were made to back up the adoption.

    A letter from NHS England in November 2013 warned GP practices that they would be in breach of contract if usage of 084 numbers continued, but nothing further was done to enforce change.

    Practices have claimed they will face large penalty charges if they terminate their telephony contracts. There is, however, no need whatsoever to terminate those contracts.

    The supplier of the 0844 numbers confirmed, years ago, that practices can migrate to the matching 0344 number or to a new 0300 number at any time and without penalty within the contract period. Very few took them up on their offer.

    Crunch time is coming. Calls to 084 and 087 numbers have two parts to their call cost. From 1 July 2015, all users of these numbers must declare the Service Charge. Those who deny this charge exists will be forced to declare that it does and how much it is. At the same time all phone providers must declare the Access Charge.

    The NHS is "free at the point of need". GP practices cannot advertise that there is a Service Charge for contacting them. They must change their numbers. They were supposed to change them five years ago.

    The Scottish Government is currently consulting on banning GP practices in Scotland from using 084 numbers. Most of the Scottish 084 numbers are actually 0845 rather than 0844. Nevertheless, these are more expensive to call from most landlines and mobiles. There's still almost two months left for responses to be sent in.
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