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  • FIRST POST
    • MSE Guy
    • By MSE Guy 14th Sep 09, 9:28 AM
    • 1,628Posts
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    MSE Guy
    MSE News: GPs to be banned from using premium rate phone lines
    • #1
    • 14th Sep 09, 9:28 AM
    MSE News: GPs to be banned from using premium rate phone lines 14th Sep 09 at 9:28 AM
    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 ..."



Page 1
    • molerat
    • By molerat 14th Sep 09, 9:42 AM
    • 21,378 Posts
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    molerat
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 09, 9:42 AM
    • #2
    • 14th Sep 09, 9:42 AM
    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.
    • redux
    • By redux 14th Sep 09, 12:46 PM
    • 19,781 Posts
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    redux
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 09, 12:46 PM
    • #3
    • 14th Sep 09, 12:46 PM
    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.
    Last edited by redux; 14-09-2009 at 12:51 PM.
    • Heinz
    • By Heinz 14th Sep 09, 1:57 PM
    • 11,038 Posts
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    Heinz
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 09, 1:57 PM
    • #4
    • 14th Sep 09, 1:57 PM
    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).
    Last edited by Heinz; 14-09-2009 at 2:03 PM.
    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
    • By poppy10 14th Sep 09, 3:06 PM
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    poppy10
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 09, 3:06 PM
    • #5
    • 14th Sep 09, 3:06 PM
    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..
  • bunking_off
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 09, 4:01 PM
    • #6
    • 14th Sep 09, 4:01 PM
    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).
    Originally posted by Heinz
    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...
    • funguy
    • By funguy 14th Sep 09, 7:55 PM
    • 570 Posts
    • 840 Thanks
    funguy
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 09, 7:55 PM
    • #7
    • 14th Sep 09, 7:55 PM

    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..
    Originally posted by poppy10
    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!
    • poppy10
    • By poppy10 14th Sep 09, 8:07 PM
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    poppy10
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 09, 8:07 PM
    • #8
    • 14th Sep 09, 8:07 PM
    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.
    Last edited by poppy10; 14-09-2009 at 8:12 PM.
    • pixwix
    • By pixwix 14th Sep 09, 9:35 PM
    • 120 Posts
    • 188 Thanks
    pixwix
    • #9
    • 14th Sep 09, 9:35 PM
    NHS Del-boys strike again...
    • #9
    • 14th Sep 09, 9:35 PM
    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.
    • jblackmore
    • By jblackmore 15th Sep 09, 8:51 AM
    • 102 Posts
    • 37 Thanks
    jblackmore
    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 !
    • molerat
    • By molerat 15th Sep 09, 11:40 AM
    • 21,378 Posts
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    molerat
    At least we don't have to pay for the parking in Scotland
    • Farway
    • By Farway 15th Sep 09, 2:14 PM
    • 7,655 Posts
    • 15,232 Thanks
    Farway
    At least we don't have to pay for the parking in Scotland
    Originally posted by molerat
    No, we pay it for you
    • DonnyDave
    • By DonnyDave 15th Sep 09, 8:04 PM
    • 1,568 Posts
    • 438 Thanks
    DonnyDave
    The ban is not a ban
    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.
    Dave
    Say no to 0870!
  • bunking_off
    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...
    • redux
    • By redux 15th Sep 09, 9:00 PM
    • 19,781 Posts
    • 27,531 Thanks
    redux
    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.
    Originally posted by bunking_off
    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
    • DonnyDave
    • By DonnyDave 15th Sep 09, 9:01 PM
    • 1,568 Posts
    • 438 Thanks
    DonnyDave
    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.
    Originally posted by bunking_off
    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.
    Dave
    Say no to 0870!
    • poppy10
    • By poppy10 15th Sep 09, 9:10 PM
    • 6,216 Posts
    • 7,545 Thanks
    poppy10
    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.
    • pinkfluffybabe
    • By pinkfluffybabe 15th Sep 09, 9:24 PM
    • 2,663 Posts
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    pinkfluffybabe
    No, we pay it for you
    Originally posted by Farway
    Bull - we prioritise our spending on health to provide cheap prescriptions and free parking so as to not tax the sick.
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    • DonnyDave
    • By DonnyDave 15th Sep 09, 9:28 PM
    • 1,568 Posts
    • 438 Thanks
    DonnyDave
    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.
    Originally posted by poppy10
    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.


    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. …
    Originally posted by poppy10
    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.
    Last edited by DonnyDave; 15-09-2009 at 10:04 PM.
    Dave
    Say no to 0870!
    • poppy10
    • By poppy10 15th Sep 09, 10:33 PM
    • 6,216 Posts
    • 7,545 Thanks
    poppy10
    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.
    Originally posted by DonnyDave
    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.
    Last edited by poppy10; 15-09-2009 at 10:40 PM.
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