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Health services using 03xx numbers (Read 23,139 times)
derrick
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #30 - Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:06pm
 
Dave wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:35am:


From that link;-
"The new number will be charged at a local rate. "

Still don't get it do they?
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #31 - Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:40pm
 
Dave wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:35am:
Quote:
New number for GP out of hours services launched
... The number is 0300 130 3018 and the initiative has been launched by NHS Hillingdon in partnership with care providers Harmoni.

Each PCT commissions GP out of hours services.

In some cases the NHS Direct NHS Trust is commissioned to provide the telephone triage service, with the main service provider (e.g. Harmoni) only picking up on cases that are referred for further action. Historically, NHS Direct has always used 0845 numbers (separate numbers for each service, not 0845 4647). It is now using 03 when new numbers are being assigned, but shows no intention of changing those which exist.

In other cases the main provider delivers the whole service. Harmoni has a policy of using 03 numbers. Hillingdon switched its approach to cut out NHS Direct, which is why the number changed.


derrick wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:06pm:
Quote:
The new number will be charged at a local rate.

Still don't get it do they?

Even those who do get it may find that "local rate" is the easiest way to make the point in a media release. A call to a 03 number does cost the same as a call to a local geographic number, so the statement is not actually false. Although a call to a remote geographic number would generally also cost the same, very many people appear to remain unaware of this. If the right point is being put across to those who read the piece, it is not necessary for every user of 03 numbers to have to engage in an extensive exercise of public education about telephone charges when issuing a media release.

It is when 0845 calls are described as being charged at "local rate" that a serious deception is being practiced. The rate charged for calling a 0845 number is different in almost every case, and it is commonly greater than that for calling a local number. I believe that this is the issue on which campaigning energies need to be focused.

This issue is very complex; I suspect that none of us totally gets it.
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sherbert
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #32 - Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:50pm
 
PCTs are to be wholly abolished by 2013 and GPs assuming the commissioning responsibilities they formerly held.

As the doctors surgeries are still using the 0844 numbers for their benefit, I can not see them, the GPs, moving away from them, especially as the are going to be in sole charge.
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kasg
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #33 - Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:51pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:40pm:
derrick wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:06pm:
Quote:
The new number will be charged at a local rate.

Still don't get it do they?

Even those who do get it may find that "local rate" is the easiest way to make the point in a media release. A call to a 03 number does cost the same as a call to a local geographic number, so the statement is not actually false. Although a call to a remote geographic number would generally also cost the same, very many people appear to remain unaware of this. If the right point is being put across to those who read the piece, it is not necessary for every user of 03 numbers to have to engage in an extensive exercise of public education about telephone charges when issuing a media release.

My initial reaction was similar to derrick's but on reflection I have to agree with SCV here. "Local rate" probably means more than "geographic rate" to most people.
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derrick
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #34 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 11:43am
 
kasg wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:51pm:
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:40pm:
derrick wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 12:06pm:
Quote:
The new number will be charged at a local rate.

Still don't get it do they?

Even those who do get it may find that "local rate" is the easiest way to make the point in a media release. A call to a 03 number does cost the same as a call to a local geographic number, so the statement is not actually false. Although a call to a remote geographic number would generally also cost the same, very many people appear to remain unaware of this. If the right point is being put across to those who read the piece, it is not necessary for every user of 03 numbers to have to engage in an extensive exercise of public education about telephone charges when issuing a media release.

My initial reaction was similar to derrick's but on reflection I have to agree with SCV here. "Local rate" probably means more than "geographic rate" to most people.



But "local rate" has no meaning, and all the authorities,(ASA, TS, Ofcom), tell you NOT to use the term, albeit re 0845 numbers, but it is still misleading under the "Consumer Protection Act 1987 (partIII) Misleading price indications.".
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kasg
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #35 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 12:02pm
 
derrick wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 11:43am:
But "local rate" has no meaning, and all the authorities,(ASA, TS, Ofcom), tell you NOT to use the term, albeit re 0845 numbers, but it is still misleading under the "Consumer Protection Act 1987 (partIII) Misleading price indications.".

Yes, I know, so does SCV, but that wasn't the point being made. Douglas Adams's phrase "mostly harmless" comes to mind.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #36 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 4:11pm
 
If we are to get pedantic on a "harmless", if potentially technically invalid, use of a commonly understood phrase to make a fair point about what we should regard as a victory for our campaigning efforts, then let us take care to ensure that we really "get it".

I understand the situation to be as follows:

  • The ASA and some Trading Standards bodies have ruled against certain specific uses of the term "local rate" to describe the cost of calling particular 0845 numbers. I am not aware of any such ruling being made with regard to geographic or 03 numbers.
  • I am not aware of any General Condition imposed by Ofcom to proscribe use of the term "local rate" by telephone service providers. They are required to adhere to the provisions of The National Telephone Numbering Plan, which includes the term "BTís Standard Local Call Retail Price" in the definition of 0845. Ofcom has no powers over how users describe the cost of calling their numbers, except for those who are providers of "Premium Rate Services" as defined in the Communications Act.
  • The current BT "Tariff Guide for Residential Customers" includes 22 references to rates for making "local" calls. Sometimes these are associated with the word "rate" and in most cases the rate is the same as that for making "national" calls. The term "local NTS" remains to describe the rate for calling 0845 numbers, as does "national NTS" for 0870, even though the actual rates for "local NTS" do not necessarily any longer bear any particular relationship to those for calling "local" geographic numbers. Many find this document hard to understand, however I doubt that one would be likely to succeed in bringing a legal action to show that this document was littered with "misleading price indications".
  • Most people would give a meaning to the term "local rate". This would be the rate for making a call to a local number on a landline. In this sense the meaning is fairly applied to the cost of calling a 03 number. (The term "local" is defined in the BT document on page number 33 (35 in Acrobat reader.)
  • One could take the trouble to explain that "local rate" is only currently distinct from "national rate", in the case of residential customers, for certain obsolescent BT and Talk Talk tariffs (plus any others that I am not aware of). One could encourage general use of the term "UK rate", as proposed by Ofcom, however one must admit that it has not been adopted by providers nor come into general use, and therefore stands as being generally meaningless. I do not believe that Hillingdon PCT is failing in its duty to the patients it serves, nor breaking the law, by not engaging on these points.
I am happy to accept that I do not fully "get it" and will be pleased to read any corrections or extensions to the points I make above, so as to improve my understanding.


I do wince at little at use of the term "local rate". I must however admit that I have nothing better to propose at present for those who are seeking to explain in simple terms that calls to a new 03 number used for a local service will be cheaper for many than the previous 0845 number, because they will be no more expensive than calling a local number.

The problem with 03 could arise if "local" calls are again offered at rates lower than those for "national" calls. The current Ofcom regulation only requires the cost of calling 03 numbers to be no greater than the latter. This was addressed by Talk Talk for the short period during which distinct terms applied to local calls. The present regulations would require similar exceptional measures to be taken should other cases arise. (I would suggest that campaigners pressing for such action focus on the example of the Metropolitan Police, clearly a provider of a local service on a 03 number, as I did with Talk Talk.) It is possible that the distinction between "local" and "national" rates could return to residential tariffs (it remains in place for business tariffs). I do not however see this as being sufficiently likely as to require briefing Hillingdon PCT and Harmoni on the impropriety of using 03 numbers or describing them as being charged at a local rate.

One should perhaps demand that users describe the cost of calling a 03 number as being no greater than "national" rate. Although technically more correct, this would actually cause many to believe the cost to be greater than that for calling a 0845 number, which was once the same as a local call.

This is a very complex issue. Again, if anyone recognises the extent to which I do not fully "get it" and can help me further, I would be delighted to be brought up to speed.


I am happy to engage in what I see as pedantry, as this is often necessary to deal with spurious points put forward by our opponents.

I would however rather that we applied our campaigning energies to matters of substance, e.g. the continuing use of 0845 numbers for Out of Hours GP services by NHS Direct. (See this press article and the detail at the foot of this page.)
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #37 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 4:41pm
 
sherbert wrote on Aug 16th, 2010 at 3:50pm:
PCTs are to be wholly abolished by 2013 and GPs assuming the commissioning responsibilities they formerly held.

The various White Paper proposals are out to consultation, which will not conclude until 11 October. There are many who doubt that something quite so radical would be achievable, either practically or politically.

For those who are following this issue, the views of Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of the BMA, as presented to the BBC, may be of interest. I personally detect some severe differences of view between Dr Meldrum and the BMA GPC, so we must take care in leaping to the assumption that all doctors think the same way.


The consultation on GP Commissioning Consortia and the NHS Commissioning Board is found here.

In theory, the Commissioning Board would have responsibility for ensuring that contracts drawn up for the provision of Out of Hours GP service (by agencies engaged by the GP consortia) included provisions to require adherence to NHS standards. This would include the requirement not to use a telephone number that was more expensive to call than a geographic number. The Board would also be responsible for ensuring that the general provisions of the GMS contract, which applies to GPs, retained the similar provision that has recently been introduced.

The big question is over who would have the responsibility for ensuring that the contractual provisions were enforced. It is difficult to see how a consortium would be ready to threaten legal action against its own members. In the absence of this ultimate sanction, it is hard to see how enforcement could be effective. The libertarian concept behind the reforms suggests that dissatisfied patients should simply move to another practice. In the case of an Out of Hours provider, a patient would need to move to a practice in another consortium. As relatively few would regard the cost of telephone calls to be sufficiently important to warrant so significant a step, the principles of the NHS are sacrificed for the sake of pragmatic consumerism.

This is however but a tiny issue in the context of the threats which our NHS faces, and that in the context of a threat to the whole of our Welfare State.
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sherbert
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #38 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:41pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 4:11pm:
Most people would give a meaning to the term "local rate". This would be the rate for making a call to a local number on a landline. In this sense the meaning is fairly applied to the cost of calling a 03 number. (The term "local" is defined in the BT document on page number 33 (35 in Acrobat reader.)

My thinking †about local rate is, or at least the way that I understand it is, it costs the same to make a call from Lands End to John o' Groats as it would to call your next door neighbour, what ever code you use, so I fail to understand why the term local rate is used, if there is no such thing. Or perhaps I have got it all wrong?



~ Edited by Dave: Quote box completed
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« Last Edit: Aug 18th, 2010 at 11:18am by Dave »  
 
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Heinz
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #39 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:50pm
 
sherbert wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:41pm:
My thinking †about local rate is, or at least the way that I understand it is, it costs the same to make a call from Lands End to John o' Groats as it would to call your next door neighbour, what ever code you use, so I fail to understand why the term local rate is used, if there is no such thing. Or perhaps I have got it all wrong?

No, you haven't. †That's been the case since 1st July 2004, when BT stole a march on the opposition and abolished 'local' and 'national' calls (or, more accurately, combined them).
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« Last Edit: Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:51pm by Heinz »  

ESSEX COUNTY COUNCIL - When are you going to STOP ignoring government guidelines and RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers with your use of 0845 numbers?
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sherbert
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #40 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:57pm
 
Heinz wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:50pm:
sherbert wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:41pm:
My thinking †about local rate is, or at least the way that I understand it is, it costs the same to make a call from Lands End to John o' Groats as it would to call your next door neighbour, what ever code you use, so I fail to understand why the term local rate is used, if there is no such thing. Or perhaps I have got it all wrong?

No, you haven't. †That's been the case since 1st July 2004, when BT stole a march on the opposition and abolished 'local' and 'national' calls (or, more accurately, combined them).


Thanks, that is what I thought, so why does SCV find it 'accepable' to use this term?
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #41 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 8:14pm
 
sherbert wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:57pm:
Thanks, that is what I thought, so why does SCV find it 'acceptable' to use this term?

Because, as explained at great length in the posts above, in my experience most people still do not know that it costs the same to call your neighbour as it does to call from Land's End to John O'Groats.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #42 - Aug 17th, 2010 at 9:31pm
 
kasg wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 8:14pm:
sherbert wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:57pm:
Thanks, that is what I thought, so why does SCV find it 'acceptable' to use this term?

Because, as explained at great length in the posts above, in my experience most people still do not know that it costs the same to call your neighbour as it does to call from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Those on certain old BT tariffs, some Talk Talk customers and many on business tariffs do not pay the same to call from Ashford in Kent to Ashford in Surrey as to their neighbour. For them there is a distinct "local rate".

I would rather that there were a clearer widely-understood simple term to summarise the benefits enjoyed as a result of switching to a 03 number, but I am prepared to accept what works in the world as it is. I accept that there is no suitable simple precise accurate term to describe the cost of calling 03 numbers. In the case of Hillingdon PCT switching from a 0845 to a 03, I am prepared to accept "local rate" by overlooking those on the old BT tariffs, knowing that Talk Talk treats 03 as local and being aware that NHS services are not available to businesses. As explained above, I fear that the more accurate "national rate" would have created a false and misleading impression, and "UK rate" would have meant little. Alternative suggestions are noticeably absent from this dialogue.

I would not accept use of the term "local rate" to describe the cost of calling a number (e.g. 0845) which is generally more expensive than calling a local number.

I am not prepared to accept the fact that NHS Direct continues to use 0845 numbers for Out of Hours GP services. That, and the proposed abolition of the NHS are of far greater concern to me than the use of technically imprecise language which nevertheless succeeds in getting across the right point about a number change.

There are indeed many who do not "get it". This includes those who believe that "local rate" no longer exists in any sense as well as those who think it is the same as "local NTS rate" and those who think that, with less than 25% of telephone calls originated, BT represents the norm, rather than the exception.
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derrick
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #43 - Aug 18th, 2010 at 10:15am
 
sherbert wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:41pm:
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 4:11pm:
Most people would give a meaning to the term "local rate". This would be the rate for making a call to a local number on a landline. In this sense the meaning is fairly applied to the cost of calling a 03 number. (The term "local" is defined in the BT document on page number 33 (35 in Acrobat reader.)

My thinking †about local rate is, or at least the way that I understand it is, it costs the same to make a call from Lands End to John o' Groats as it would to call your next door neighbour, what ever code you use, so I fail to understand why the term local rate is used, if there is no such thing. Or perhaps I have got it all wrong?

Heinz wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 7:50pm:
No, you haven't. †That's been the case since 1st July 2004, when BT stole a march on the opposition and abolished 'local' and 'national' calls (or, more accurately, combined them).



Exactly, the comparison should be with mobiles, you do †not call any number beginning 01/02/03 "local" or "national", they are just a number from a mobile,(most mobile to mobile will come under the same category), and does not matter if the recipient is stood next to you or at the other end of the country the cost will be the same! So stop calling landline numbers "local/national" they don't exist and just continue to confuse! As Heinz says, " That's been the case since 1st July 2004,", over 6 years ago! Get with the programme!



SilentCallsVictim wrote on Aug 17th, 2010 at 9:31pm:
Those on certain old BT tariffs, some Talk Talk customers and many on business tariffs do not pay the same to call from Ashford in Kent to Ashford in Surrey as to their neighbour. For them there is a distinct "local rate".



Irrelevant, (unless we are using "minority rules" as against " majority rules").



~ Edited by Dave: Quote box completed
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« Last Edit: Aug 18th, 2010 at 12:45pm by Dave »  
 
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Health services using 03xx numbers
Reply #44 - Aug 18th, 2010 at 11:27am
 
derrick wrote on Aug 18th, 2010 at 10:15am:
... stop calling landline numbers "local/national" they don't exist and just continue to confuse! As Heinz says, " That's been the case since 1st July 2004,", over 6 years ago! Get with the programme!

Whilst for the vast majority of residential landline callers and for all payphone and mobile callers there is no distinction between the rates charged, there is no question that the distinction between local and national calls still exists. Talk Talk has demonstrated that it could return to having a relevance to call charges.

Those who wish to be pedantic on points like this must get it right.

In relation to GP Out of Hours services, my programme is focussed on the abuse of the principles of the NHS being practiced by NHS Direct. I am happy to support efforts to introduce 03 numbers. Others may have a quite different programme, as they fail to indicate support for the issues which I see as being the matters of relevance in this forum.

derrick wrote on Aug 18th, 2010 at 10:15am:
Irrelevant, (unless we are using "minority rules" as against " majority rules").

I hope we are using neither. Due weight must always be given to the interests of both majorities and minorities. If we were using "majority rules", then the healthy majority would not be paying for a National Health Service to meet the needs of the sick minority. Furthermore, we should not disregard the good people of Hull just because they are a minority! (Nobody pointed out that this was an issue which I appeared not to "get" in my previous contributions.)

I believe that a majority of people who read the Hillingdon PCT press release will understand that the cost of calling the new 03 number is the same as that of calling a neighbour, whereas the 0845 number was more expensive for many. When considering the choice of language, that is the only point which I see as being of real relevance.

It would perhaps be of interest to know just what is the programme that I am failing to get. :bemused
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