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MSE News: GPs to be banned from using premium rate phone lines

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MSE News: GPs to be banned from using premium rate phone lines

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Phones & TV
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MSE_GuyMSE_Guy MSE Staff
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Phones & TV
This is the discussion thread for the following MSE News Story:

"Premium rate phone numbers are to be banned across the NHS, the Government has announced ..."

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  • moleratmolerat Forumite
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    How many health centres actually use 087* numbers, very very few. Many use 084* so there will be little change. Another no news story pumped out as good news by this government.
  • edited 14 September 2009 at 1:51PM
    reduxredux Forumite
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    edited 14 September 2009 at 1:51PM
    This will have negligible effect, for reasons molerat points out above

    Banning 0871 numbers for doctors is a diversionary tactic for the failure to implement sanctions against use of 0844, which at some times are more expensive than 0870 used to be.

    Ofcom are keen to point out that 0844 are not premium rate numbers, and anyone who makes enquiries relating to organisations changing number and making misleading tariff announcements is treated as a timewaster.

    Perhaps the article needs some revision, as this is not accurate: Patients may still have to dial 084 numbers to get through to a GP or other health-related number but they will only pay the cost of a local call in many cases

    There is no such thing as a local call rate, and I'm surprised to see this myth sustained.

    Most people will have free evening or weekend calls to ordinary numbers from their landline, and some more will have spare inclusive minutes at any time on their landline or mobile, but 0844 are never included in any calls packages.
  • edited 14 September 2009 at 3:03PM
    HeinzHeinz Forumite
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    edited 14 September 2009 at 3:03PM
    The bar is on the use of numbers which 'cost more than a local call'.

    The delay in producing the report means that the 5p/minute 0844 numbers used by over 1200 NHS GPs' surgeries which have NEG SurgeryLine contracts WILL BE UNAFFECTED.

    The reason for that is BT (against whose rates the 'local call' criteria will undoubtedly be judged) will increase its prices in just over 2 weeks and, then, 01/02/03 calls will cost 5.25p per minute - more than it costs to dial the most expensive 0844 number!

    As a result, SurgeryLine has effectively been given the go-ahead to use more expensive numbers (not that there's an 08 number currently available which costs 5.25p/minute to call - the most expensive 0843/4 number costs 5p/minute to call and the least expensive 0871/2/3 number costs 6p/minute to call).
    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.
  • poppy10_2poppy10_2 Forumite
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    GPs get 2p a minute from the cost of 0844 calls. I can't believe they are going to be allowed to continue this blatant money grab. Ofcom recommended they move to the new 03 numbers that would be included as part of the inclusive minutes deals on mobiles and landlines.

    I work in a hospital, and it's becoming an increasing PITA to get through to GP surgeries to obtain information, as they make you sit through endless 'announcements' and pointless menu options before putting you through to the receptionist (who is the same no matter what menu option you choose, it makes no difference.) The only reason is to keep you on hold as long as possible to maximize their revenue. It's awful.

    I'm going to file a Freedom of Information Act request to see how much our trust is spending on phone calls to GP practices..
    poppy10
  • Heinz wrote: »
    The reason for that is BT (against whose rates the 'local call' criteria will undoubtedly be judged) will increase its prices in just over 2 weeks and, then, 01/02/03 calls will cost 5.25p per minute - more than it costs to dial the most expensive 0844 number!

    As a result, SurgeryLine has effectively been given the go-ahead to use more expensive numbers (not that there's an 08 number currently available which costs 5.25p/minute to call - the most expensive 0843/4 number costs 5p/minute to call and the least expensive 0871/2/3 number costs 6p/minute to call).

    Actually, I'm not really sure. The wording of the NHS document is;

    The Department does not intend to ban the 084 number range; rather, it intends to amend legislation and issue supporting guidance to the NHS to ensure that patients contacting the NHS do not pay more than the equivalent cost of a call to a geographic number, regardless of the number they call.

    ...so much depends on how good their lawyers/guidance writers are. It could be interpreted as "cost of BT call to a geo number", in which case your scenario is right. It could, however, be interpreted as "cost of call to a geo number to that patient", in which case not. Personally, if the correct wording is found I think they're better to take this approach because otherwise they'd be playing cat & mouse with GPs as they moved their service from number range to number range as they became available.
    I really must stop loafing and get back to work...
  • funguyfunguy Forumite
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    Poppy10 wrote: »

    I'm going to file a Freedom of Information Act request to see how much our trust is spending on phone calls to GP practices..

    How about you also file a request to see how much each GP practice pays whilst on hold to the hospitals.. I can assure you more time is spent trying to get people in hospital than the other way round! How about the NHS actually sorting out its phone systems so that all NHS sites are interconnected! Would save them a fortune!
  • edited 14 September 2009 at 9:12PM
    poppy10_2poppy10_2 Forumite
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    edited 14 September 2009 at 9:12PM
    The GPs surgeries used to be connected to our switchboard, so we could dial a free internal number to call them and vice versa. But of course the greedy GPs weren't making any profit from that, so they all changed to 0844 numbers a couple of years back.

    The hospital still has a normal landline number, despite being one of the largest and busiest in the country. The excuse given by the GPs for installing SurgeryLine, claiming they need it to handle the volume of calls they get, is complete bunkum. They don't get even a tenth of the calls the hospital gets. It's all about the money, plain and simple.
    poppy10
  • From phone calls to parking, it's come to something when one of the biggest scam merchants in the country is the NHS. What trust can we have in people so eager to screw us all over?

    I hope this ban will also extend to hospitals, most of whom now run premium rate phones both in and out. These NHS bandits are taking cynical advantage of people often upset and vulnerable.

    Just today, my wife had to ring a hospital 100 miles away to talk to her newly-hospitalised father - for which she was charged 49p a minute!!!! And that included over a minute of pure waffle before she was even connected - a simple 5 minute chat with her Dad cost us around £3!!!

    With paid parking now in place at that hospital, we shudder to think what it's going to cost us to visit him (and we're pensioners ourselves). It's not just disgraceful - it's morally indefensible.
  • jblackmorejblackmore Forumite
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    My understanding is that around 60% of calls to/from GPs are to other NHS sites - so as usual this whole thing is just a waste of NHS money - Hospitals calling GPs on 0844 numbers and paying for the privilege out of NHS budgets.
    GPs 'free' phone systems, are costing the NHS Millions - how long will it take Ofcom/DoH/govt to actually wake up and use common sense !
  • moleratmolerat Forumite
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    At least we don't have to pay for the parking in Scotland ;)
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