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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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  • FarwayFarway Forumite
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    molerat wrote: »
    At least we don't have to pay for the parking in Scotland ;)

    No, we pay it for you :mad:
  • The ban is not a ban.

    The Department's statement says that premium rate charges will be banned, but specifically allows 084 numbers, so long as no patient pays more than they would do for a normal landline number.

    Telephone charges don't work in this way. The GPs have no way of controlling what telephone companies charge to ring their 0844 numbers. Even BBC News reported this rubbish that telephone companies will reduce charges to GPs' 084 numbers to local rate.


    On the other hand, the BMA believes that telephone tariffs will be amended. Dream on. :rolleyes:

    The BMA's main spokesman on this is Dr Richard Vautrey, who is deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's GPs Committee. The Yorkshire Evening Post says he said his surgery used an 0844 number but the company supplying it had assured the Government it cost no more than a local call.


    The Minister has stated that the Department has been concerned that patients have been paying more than they would to a normal local landline. He also says that there is clear support for a ban on 084 numbers. So how is the Department going to deliver its pledge?


    More discussion on SAYNOTO0870.COM here.
  • I must admit that the reason I went to the NHS document rather than the news stories was because I heard the wording on the BBC news and, working in the industry, was more than slightly intrigued about how the dickens it would be possible. 0844 costs what 0844 costs, and changing the pricing of individual numbers within the ranges is a non-starter.

    We'll see how things pan out, but my own view is that the NHS is defacto banning the use of 0844, but done it in such a way as to make it future-proof. It'll ban the usage of numbers that are charged at more than the geo rate for the caller involved. Defacto, this means that 0844 numbers cannot be used because this criteria cannot be achieved with them (incidentally 0845 can, because it's included in call packages like 0870...but there is the question of calls from mobiles). They could have banned usage of 0844 numbers directly, but were they to do so and a new range (e.g.085) be introduced in the future, they'd have to legislate against that as well. As that would take time some would inevitably exploit this in the interim. By going at it this way, so long as they don't let GPs pull the wool over there eyes - far from inevitable - the rules are future-proof.
    I really must stop loafing and get back to work...
  • reduxredux Forumite
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    It'll ban the usage of numbers that are charged at more than the geo rate for the caller involved. Defacto, this means that 0844 numbers cannot be used because this criteria cannot be achieved with them .......... - the rules are future-proof.

    Future-proof? Don't assume too much

    Very shortly, BT's rates for ordinary landlines will increase to 5.25p a minute ....... more than 0844 calls, and some marketing cynics are already saying 0844 are cheaper, and reinventing myths about local call rates
  • … They could have banned usage of 0844 numbers directly, but were they to do so and a new range (e.g.085) be introduced in the future, they'd have to legislate against that as well. As that would take time some would inevitably exploit this in the interim. By going at it this way, so long as they don't let GPs pull the wool over there eyes - far from inevitable - the rules are future-proof.
    They should have said that only 01/02/03 is permitted with maybe 0800/0808/0500 allowed, although whether I don't want to get drawn into a debate about whether freephone numbers should be allowed or not, due to the issues of calls from mobiles.

    My point is that this should have been a rule to permit only acceptable ranges rather than ban unacceptable ranges. With the solution they have, the 084 numbers are in reality banned.
  • poppy10_2poppy10_2 Forumite
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    Dr Vautrey said his surgery used an 0844 number but the company supplying it had assured the Government it cost no more than a local call.
    But he said some callers, especially those on mobile phones, did not get these numbers included in their call packages and so he urged more phone companies to make them inclusive.

    Deliberately misleading and disingenous nonsense from the GP spokesman there. First of all to suggest that his surgery's 0844 number costs 'no more than a local call' is misleading, there are no local call rates anymore, local calls cost the same as national calls on BT landlines.

    Also, he tries to pass the buck on to the phone companies, saying that more phone companies should include 0844 numbers in their inclusive minutes. The phone industry has already worked on this, that's why they came up with 03 numbers as an alternative, which are included in inclusive minutes packages. But if the greedy GPs switched to 03 numbers they would have not be able to cream off more profits from their patients, as call revenue sharing is not permitted on 03 numbers.
    poppy10
  • pinkfluffybabepinkfluffybabe Forumite
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    Farway wrote: »
    No, we pay it for you :mad:

    Bull - we prioritise our spending on health to provide cheap prescriptions and free parking so as to not tax the sick.
    Not buying unnecessary toiletries 2020 31/91 UU, 8 IN
    Mortgage Free Wannabe 2020 £195.39/£600
  • edited 15 September 2009 at 11:04PM
    DonnyDaveDonnyDave Forumite
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    edited 15 September 2009 at 11:04PM
    Poppy10 wrote: »
    Deliberately misleading and disingenous nonsense from the GP spokesman there. First of all to suggest that his surgery's 0844 number costs 'no more than a local call' is misleading, there are no local call rates anymore, local calls cost the same as national calls on BT landlines.
    On its website, Dr Vautrey's surgery, Meanwood Group Practice in Leeds, states:

    (This is a local rate of 5p/min the Practice does not profit from your call)

    The text is in red on the webpage.

    Poppy10 wrote: »
    Also, he tries to pass the buck on to the phone companies, saying that more phone companies should include 0844 numbers in their inclusive minutes. …
    Indeed. The point is he is calling for the rates of 0844 numbers to be the same as "local" numbers. It costs the providers that we make our calls with about 0.4 pence per minute for 01/02/03 numbers, but around 4.5 pence per minute for 0844 g6 numbers, of which Dr Vautrey's is. So he thinks that the telephone companies with which we make our calls should pay for his telephone system and that they shouldn't pass on the excess cost that they incur on to patients in higher retail charges.
  • edited 15 September 2009 at 11:40PM
    poppy10_2poppy10_2 Forumite
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    edited 15 September 2009 at 11:40PM
    DonnyDave wrote: »
    On its website, Dr Vautrey's surgery, Meanwood Group Practice in Leeds, states:

    (This is a local rate of 5p/min the Practice does not profit from your call)

    The text is in red on the webpage.
    Having the text in red does not necessarily mean it's true.:confused:

    The practice has the SurgeryLine system, under which GPs retain 2p/min of each call.
    poppy10
  • poppy10_2poppy10_2 Forumite
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    DonnyDave wrote: »
    Indeed. The point is he is calling for the rates of 0844 numbers to be the same as "local" numbers. It costs the providers that we make our calls with about 0.4 pence per minute for 01/02/03 numbers, but around 4.5 pence per minute for 0844 g6 numbers, of which Dr Vautrey's is. So he thinks that the telephone companies with which we make our calls should pay for his telephone system and that they shouldn't pass on the excess cost that they incur on to patients in higher retail charges.

    Why did you only use half of my quote? The argument about whether 0844 calls should be cheaper or not is moot. The point is there is no reason for public bodies like NHS GP practices to use 0844 numbers at all.
    The phone industry, in association with Ofcom, has created 03 numbers precisely for the reason you outline. 03 numbers perform the same function as 0844 numbers, but cost the same as 01/02 numbers, and are included in inclusive minutes packages. If Dr Vautrey was concerned about patients facing higher retail charges, he and his fellow GPs would switch to an 03 number, as they were intended to do.

    He can call for cheaper 0844 calls all he likes, but as long as he refuses to switch to an 03 number, (which would perform exactly the same function but without the chance for him to make a profit) it is pure misdirection.
    poppy10
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