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Message started by lompos on Sep 3rd, 2007 at 3:41pm

Title: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by lompos on Sep 3rd, 2007 at 3:41pm
Prompted by a geographic request for Dewsbury District Hospital I found that all 4 hospitals in the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, as well as the trust headquarters, are on the same 0844 number which is charged at 5p/min at all times.

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/Contact+us/

There have been numerous threads about GPs installing 0844 numbers.  But NHS hospitals?????

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by derrick on Sep 3rd, 2007 at 5:17pm
As the Trust H Q has the same number but also the geo number,  (01924 213850) I would suggest that number could be used!  And ask them why the hell are they using a rip off number!

I have just rang the 01924 number and it puts you through to the switchboard and they will transfer you to whichever hospital you want, but I do not know how long that will last, oh and they have been informed that the call cost is "local rate"  >:(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by lompos on Sep 3rd, 2007 at 7:29pm
You are right, they will put you through to any of the Mid Yorkshire NHS Trust hospitals from the geog number. There is a separate thread in Geographical Request concerning Dewbury Hospital where I put in the geog number and I also added it to the database.

However, in this thread I tried to raise a point of principle. How on earth are NHS hospitals justified in giving out 0844 contact numbers which at 5p/min at all times are in effect premium rate numbers in all but name?

This goes against the basic principle of the NHS being free at the point of use even more so as in the case of greedy GPs who are, after all, private business people only tied to the NHS by contract. But the hospitals are 100% NHS!! Doesn't Government guidance apply to them?


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on May 5th, 2008 at 9:21pm
Press release from when they introduced the new number:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/News/New+hospital+telephone+number.htm

<<
New hospital telephone number

22 May 2006

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is ringing the changes with the introduction of a new telephone system that will provide one main switchboard number for all calls.

From today (22 May) anyone calling Clayton, Dewsbury and District, Pinderfields or Pontefract hospitals will need to dial 0844 811 8110.

All calls to the new number, no matter where you are calling from across the UK, will be charged at local rates. Once connected callers, will be greeted by an automated service, which enables direct routing for those who know which department and member of staff they wish to talk to, and transfer to a switchboard operator for those in need of assistance.

Services manager, Angela Ferguson said: “Our switchboard operators currently handle around 80,000 calls every week. Many of the callers know exactly who they need to speak to, so don’t necessarily need the help of our switchboard staff. The new system will enable quicker, more direct routing for these calls. This should mean fewer people queuing to be connected providing an improved service for callers and improved job satisfaction for our operators.”

To help with the transition to the new number the Trust has been working closely with Cable and Wireless, who will be providing the automated service.

Martin Goodman, director of government and Public sector for Cable & Wireless said: “We’re keen to get things right from the start so that when people call the hospitals they get through to the right person or department as quickly and easily as possible. We’ve already been looking closely on the names of staff, so that we can programme the systems to take into account the different pronunciations callers might use.

“Also once operational, our high-spec technology will enable us to produce daily reports identifying any calls that we’ve been unable to connect, finding the cause and rectifying them. “

[…]
>>

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on May 6th, 2008 at 1:33pm
The NHS Network website - shows four NHS Acute Hospital Trusts using revenue sharing 0844 telephone numbers.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust - 0844 811 8110 (see above)
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust 0844 8118222 (see this thread)
Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust 0844 822 0002 et al (see this thread)
and also South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust - 08448 113030.

In addition, it lists the following eight using 0845 numbers:

Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust - 0845 130 4204
Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust - 0845 111 4000
Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 226 3000
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 08454 222 222
Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 127 0 127
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust - 0845 155 8155
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 155 5000
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust - 0845 402 4331


The relevant supervisory bodies have been informed. The relevant Trusts have been invited to explain how they justify and account for using funding from patients.

Whilst attention is paid to perhaps over 1000 GPs using revenue sharing 0844 numbers, bringing them back into compliance with their contracts will not be helped if they can point at NHS organisations that breach the principle of "free at the point of need" in the same way.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on May 6th, 2008 at 10:18pm
Those trusts which give lame excuses for switching to 0844/5 should read this:

Source: Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Trust

http://www.dbh.nhs.uk/New_telephone_system_at_Bassetlaw_Hospital.asp

<<
New telephone system at Bassetlaw Hospital

A new telephone system goes live at Bassetlaw Hospital on Sunday 27 April.

The existing system, installed in 1987, is obsolete and is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. In 2006, a £400,000 capital scheme was approved to provide a replacement telephone system that would be reliable, resilient, flexible and compatible with the systems at DRI and Montagu Hospital.

The new system at Bassetlaw Hospital will provide a building block for the future strategy on telecommunications. It will allow the Trust to develop its strategy for converging the voice and data networks, to upgrade the Trust’s telephone systems with an IP-based network on all three sites, and improve resilience and business continuity.

[…]

The telephone number for Bassetlaw Hospital - 01909 500990 - will remain the same. There are no changes to existing extension numbers. […]
>>

Title: Hospitals make money on patient phone calls
Post by kk on May 16th, 2008 at 9:49am
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article3941474.ece

Hospitals make money on patient phone calls  
THE TIMES  16 May 2008
BY David Rose


QUOTE

At least a dozen NHS hospital trusts are using “revenue-sharing” telephone numbers to earn money from patients' calls, The Times has learnt.

Some trusts have switched to numbers with an 0844 or 0845 prefix, which are up to 30p a minute more expensive to call than a standard local number. Hospitals can also receive a rebate on incoming calls by using the numbers, which one trust said was used to help it to meet “savings targets”.

More than 1,500 doctors' surgeries are using the more expensive numbers, despite ministers' declarations that patients should pay no more than the cost of a local call to phone their GPs. Calls to 0844 numbers cost 5p a minute from a landline and 40p from a mobile, although the exact cost varies depending on the tariff or package of the caller.

Doctors have claimed that their rebate of about 2p a minute on every call is used to cover the costs of improved telephone services, but consumer lobbyists say that health services are profiting unfairly from patients' calls.

Related Links on web ed:  [ GPs told to avoid premium numbers    AND  How to beat banks’ 0845 phone rip-off ]

In an e-mail seen by The Times, John Maddison, finance director of the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, confirmed that the trust had previously received “a modest income” from its 0844 number.

The decision to switch to the number was made “reluctantly” to assist in meeting “savings targets”, he said. The trust, which serves a catchment population of 365,000, switched back to using local geographic numbers in January.

Other hospital trusts still using 0844 numbers for their switchboards, appointment booking and other inquiries include Mid Essex, Mid Yorkshire, Northumbria, and South Tyneside.

At least eight other trusts are using 0845 numbers. NHS Direct, the national health advice line, also uses an 0845 number.

END QUOTE

~ Edited by Dave: Hyperlink added to article

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on May 19th, 2008 at 12:33pm
As David Rose pointed out in his article, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust also uses 0844:

http://www.northumbria.nhs.uk/page.asp?id=232940

http://www.northumbria.nhs.uk/menu.asp?id=258232


Quote:
Contact Centre

Overview
The Contact Centre provides a point of contact to support patients, GPs and staff to make outpatient appointments, coordinate emergency admissions, book operations and arrange bank staff cover for the Trust's 10 hospitals.

Since the opening of the Contact Centre in March 2004 the number of calls has steadily risen and now an average of 3,500 callers dial the Contact Centre on the lo-call rate number every week - 0844 811 8118

We are open from 8am until 6.30pm Monday to Friday.

The Trust's so-called "lo-call" number costs 5 pence per minute at all times from most landlines and who knows how much from mobiles and payphones.

Title: Re: NEG propaganda
Post by idb on May 21st, 2008 at 12:39am
http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-breaking-news/2008/05/20/hospital-trust-admits-to-telephone-money-earner-84229-20936851/

Hospital trust admits to telephone money earner

May 20 2008 Evening Gazette

<<
A Teesside hospital trust has admitted using a fixed-rate telephone number to make money out of patients.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust acquired an 0844 number two years ago so that it would have one number covering its three hospital sites. A trust spokeswoman said it generated about £15,000 income.

The number only became fully operational in June 2007 as the trust was coming to the end of a period of significant financial recovery and was discontinued in January this year.

In reply to a complaint, John Maddison, director of finance, said: “We reluctantly took the decision to have the number because it generated a modest income for us at a time when we had a significant savings target.”
>>


Title: Re: NEG propaganda
Post by idb on May 21st, 2008 at 12:21pm
http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/2008/05/21/hospital-made-15-000-from-patients-84229-20940769/

Hospital made £15,000 from patients

May 21 2008 by Marie Levy, Evening Gazette

<<
A TEESSIDE hospital has admitted using a fixed rate telephone number to make money out of patients.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust acquired an 0844 number two years ago so that it would have one number covering its three hospital sites.

A trust spokeswoman said it generated about £15,000 income.

The number only became fully operational in June 2007 as the trust was coming to the end of a period of significant financial recovery and was discontinued in January this year.

In reply to a complaint, John Maddison, director of finance, recently admitted: “We reluctantly took the decision to have the number because it generated a modest income for us at a time when we had a significant savings target to ensure that we could continue to provide safe, quality services to patients.”

The trust reverted back to its original numbers at the end of January this year following complaints from patients about the increased cost.

But it has been revealed that patients are still being charged if they dial the old number.

David Hickson of London has identified several hospital trusts that he claims are breaching the principle of the NHS being “free at the point of need” by making money out of the 0844 number.

Mr Hickson said North Tees has not completely phased out the 0844 number.

“You continue to receive income derived from patients as calls to 0844 8118222 are still being accepted, rather than being re-directed,” he told them.

Mr Hickson said he found the old number on web pages for NHS Choices search, NHS Choose and Book, NHS networks list of acute trusts, Radio North Tees and The University of Teesside.

“I also understand that calls to the 0844 number are still being solicited in materials published by the trust itself.”

Fixed rate telemarketing numbers such as the 5p-a-minute 0844 numbers generate additional income for businesses. Even small companies can generate thousands of pounds a year.

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “We have now contacted all of the organisations listed and informed them of our change of telephone number.

“We have also searched on Google and we are informing each organisation where our number is listed on their website that it is now changed.

“Where possible we give direct line numbers to patients, on patient information leaflets for example. However, as we go through the process of revising and updating leaflets, we will make sure that any reference to the 0844 number is removed.”
>>


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on May 22nd, 2008 at 8:14pm
Further to the press release from when they introduced the new number:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/News/New+hospital+telephone+number.htm

The page has now been amended:


Quote:
All calls to the new number, no matter where you are calling from across the UK, will be charged at local rates*.

* Please note that this was correct at the time of going to press



Proof, as if more proof were needed that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust didn't know what it was doing when it introduced its 0844 number comes in the form of a leaflet published in 2006 when it was introduced:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F3B05D98-3D06-4AC9-8916-1BC8847AF2FB/0/MYHTMYtechnology06_7.pdf


Quote:
Advanced telephone system

In May 2006, we introduced a new telephone system to provide one main switchboard number for all calls. By having one contact number for all our hospitals, we are aiming to manage the large volume of calls we receive from patients and visitors in a quicker and more efficient way.

The new number has the capacity to take a large number of calls at any one time and we plan to include automated facilities so that callers are quickly directly to the appropriate hospital and department. Callers will also have the choice to speak to one of our switchboard operators if they require help or assistance. We are given a small revenue by the network provider of the 0844 number, which does not impact on the callers’ charge. This revenue is spent on improving and developing the telephone infrastructure overall for patients and visitors.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by NGMsGhost on Jun 11th, 2008 at 7:15pm

Dave wrote on May 22nd, 2008 at 8:14pm:
Further to the press release from when they introduced the new number:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/News/New+hospital+telephone+number.htm

The page has now been amended:

All calls to the new number, no matter where you are calling from across the UK, will be charged at local rates*.

* Please note that this was correct at the time of going to press


This is obviously worth a further complaint to deadlock stage with the NHS and/or the NHS Board and then on the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman if anyone on this site lives in the relevant part of the country.  I am not sure you could take it the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman unless you or a relative are an actual potential user of these services though.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 9th, 2008 at 1:20pm
Two interesting recent published comments on this topic:

"A Birthday present for the NHS"

Volunteers pay a hospital for the privilege of volunteering


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Aug 4th, 2008 at 12:10am
http://www.wakefieldexpress.co.uk/news/Hospitals-made-80000-on-calls.4347226.jp

Hospitals made £80,000 on calls

Pinderfield and Dewsbury rake in telephone cash

Published Date:
01 August 2008
By Don Mort

<<
A HEALTH trust has raked in more than £80,000 in the past two years from charges for incoming phone calls to the district's hospitals.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust replaced local dialling codes with a revenue-sharing scheme using 0844 numbers in May 2006.

The change meant the trust received a proportion of the charges – 5p per minute from a landline and up to 40p a minute from a mobile – from the network provider.

Now health chiefs have revealed calls to Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals have generated 'in the region of £82,000' since the change.

The figures, requested by the Express via the Freedom of Information Act, were described as 'indefensible' by the Patients Association.

Vice chairman Michael Summers said: "We really don't think hospitals should extract money from patients from phone calls.

"They are ill and this is just a tax on them. It is indefensible.

"There is no regulation on this and trusts are able to charge what they like. It affects patients and families as people often don't know how long they are going to be in hospital."

Thousands of calls are made by patients, friends and relatives to hospitals every week, the trust receives 0.0275p for every 10-second call.

It said the phone system was more efficient and benefited patients as the cash was reinvested in services.

Contact forms have been posted on the trust website so people can make appointments and inquires without phoning.
>>

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Aug 4th, 2008 at 1:01pm

idb wrote on Aug 4th, 2008 at 12:10am:
Hospitals made £80,000 on calls

<< ...
[the trust] said the phone system was more efficient and benefited patients as the cash was reinvested in services. Contact forms have been posted on the trust website so people can make appointments and inquires without phoning.
>>


The practice here is no different to that followed by other Acute NHS Trusts, at least one PCT and many GPs.

It is the attempt to justify raising money from patients accessing treatment, by suggesting that it is used to cover the costs incurred in providing that treatment which is extraordinary. What else does a NHS service providers do? I am not aware of any accusation of fraud on the part of Trust staff.

The question here is about the way that the money is raised, not about how it is spent.

There are some charges for NHS services that are sanctioned by parliament, e.g. prescription fees in England. These are however subject to exemption on the loose basis of the degree of need and the ability to pay. Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust grants exemption to patients who have access to the internet!

It it is a disgrace that, despite an evidence gathering exercise having been completed by the Department of Health, we have passed through the sixtieth anniversary of the NHS and the publication of the Darzi review with nothing being done to restore the fundamental founding principle that NHS services are delivered "free at the point of need".

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Aug 4th, 2008 at 4:23pm

idb wrote on Aug 4th, 2008 at 12:10am:
Hospitals made £80,000 on calls

<< ...
[the trust] said the phone system was more efficient and benefited patients as the cash was reinvested in services. Contact forms have been posted on the trust website so people can make appointments and inquires without phoning.
>>

I would like to reiterate the point made above about Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, and that is that when the number was introduced they said it was "charged at local rates."

My post made previously on this topic is as follows:


Dave wrote on May 22nd, 2008 at 8:14pm:
Further to the press release from when they introduced the new number:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/News/New+hospital+telephone+number.htm

The page has now been amended:


Quote:
All calls to the new number, no matter where you are calling from across the UK, will be charged at local rates*.

* Please note that this was correct at the time of going to press



Proof, as if more proof were needed that Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust didn't know what it was doing when it introduced its 0844 number comes in the form of a leaflet published in 2006 when it was introduced:

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/NR/rdonlyres/F3B05D98-3D06-4AC9-8916-1BC8847AF2FB/0/MYHTMYtechnology06_7.pdf

[quote]Advanced telephone system

In May 2006, we introduced a new telephone system to provide one main switchboard number for all calls. By having one contact number for all our hospitals, we are aiming to manage the large volume of calls we receive from patients and visitors in a quicker and more efficient way.

The new number has the capacity to take a large number of calls at any one time and we plan to include automated facilities so that callers are quickly directly to the appropriate hospital and department. Callers will also have the choice to speak to one of our switchboard operators if they require help or assistance. We are given a small revenue by the network provider of the 0844 number, which does not impact on the callers’ charge. This revenue is spent on improving and developing the telephone infrastructure overall for patients and visitors.
[/quote]

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Aug 5th, 2008 at 12:52pm
http://www.ehiprimarycare.com/news/4025/hopsitals'_084_numbers_makes_trust_%C2%A380000

Hopsitals' 084 numbers makes trust £80,000
05 Aug 2008

<<
GP practices and hospitals may face increased pressure over use of 084 telephone numbers following a revelation from a hospital trust that it has made more than £80,000 from use of a 0844 telephone number over the last two years.

The Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals Trust was forced to publish its income from the revenue-sharing telephone number following a Freedom of information request made by its local newspaper.

NHS organisations including GP practices that use 0844 numbers have been criticised by MPs and other campaigners for making money from NHS patients. The government launched an evidence gathering exercise into use of the numbers in primary care in March but has yet to publish the results of its investigations.

The income made by the Mid-Yorkshire Hospitals Trust has been condemned as “indefensible” by the Patient’s Association which said that hospitals should not be allowed to make money from patients’ telephone calls.

More than 800 GP practices in England use 0844 numbers as well as 15 hospital trusts which use either 0844 or 0845 numbers. NHS Direct also uses a premium rate 0845 number and last week told EHI Primary Care that it had no plans to switch to a standard rate 03 number reserved for its use.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust replaced its standard rate dialling codes with an O844 number in May 2006. The change means the trusts now receive 0.0275p for every ten-second call and patients pay 5p a minute from a landline and more from a mobile telephone.

The trust told the Wakefield Express newspaper that it had generated “in the region of £82,000” since the introduction of the numbers for Pinderfields, Pontefract and Dewsbury hospitals.

However in a statement issued to E-Health Insider the trust defended the use of the numbers and said it had no plans to change its telephone number although it would continue to monitor national policy and guidance and consider changes in accordance with that guidance.

Tony Waite, acting chief executive at the trust, said: “In common with other organisations across the country, we introduced our 0844 number to better manage the large volume of calls we receive from patients and visitors in a quicker and more efficient way.

“Our four hospitals serve a population of more than half a million people and the benefit of having our current system means that we not only have the capacity to take a large number of calls at any one time, but callers only have one number to remember when contacting any of our hospitals.”

Waite said the trust recognised that a direct dial number was more convenient for some patients and had publicised direct dial numbers for its wards and departments to local GPs and to patients.

He added: “We receive 0.0275p for a ten second call by the network provider of the 0844 number. This money has been reinvested into clinical services at our trust to ensure that we deliver high quality care to our patients. We also continue to make improvements to the 0844 telephone service. This includes introducing an automated system, which means that callers can be put through more quickly to the right ward or department. We expect this to be in place by the end of the year.”
>>

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Aug 6th, 2008 at 1:46pm
Members may be interested to note that until 13:15 today the following FAQ answer was on the Mid Yorkshire NHS Hospital Trust website:


Quote:

What is the cost of the 0844 number?

Our 0844 numbers are charged at local call rates (up to 5p per minute)
as with local numbers prefixed with 01924 or 01977. The 0844 number doesn't charge patients at a higher rate
but some telephone service providers offer special packages where their customers either get free or discounted calls.  We believe that 0844 numbers are excluded from some of these offer packages and continue to be charged at a local rate.

We would therefore suggest that anyone who subscribes to a phone package to check directly with their provider which numbers are excluded.  We would welcome the decision by these particular service providers to start including 0844 numbers as part of their inclusive call packages - so that our patients who subscribe to them can contract us free of charge.

This item has now been removed pending investigation of a suggestion that the information is inaccurate and misleading.

The Trust has been told that all callers pay more for calling call type “g6” numbers than geographic numbers, and that “local rate” has not applied to residential telephone tariffs since 2004. It has also been told that this surcharge, and the exclusion from packages, is because these numbers are used for revenue sharing.

The income to the Trust has to come from somewhere, it is not a gift from the telephone companies. It is obtained from callers, primarily patients, who pay a surcharge on their telephone bill as a fee for accessing the hospital’s services.

The Trust has been offered help from campaigners in discovering what is really going on, so as to help it make the right decision.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Aug 28th, 2008 at 8:26pm
One which appears to have been missed of the list is Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust. This is a mental health trust, rather than an acute (hospital) trust.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 6th, 2008 at 2:41pm
University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust has placed itself on the list of those who charge patients by way of 0844 telephone numbers.

http://www.uhl-tr.nhs.uk/formedia/press-releases/july-to-september-2008/september-2008/one-phone-call-away

<<
One phone call away
Press Release 825,  04/09/2008  

Leicester's hospitals are just a phone call away  

You can now call any of Leicester's three hospitals from a single number: 0844 967 0460.  We have introduced this new number to provide a more effective and efficient telephone service for local people.

The aim of this service is to provide a single point of telephone contact for patients, carers and professionals for information and access to our services.

Darren Brown, Leicester Hospitals telecommunications manager said,"We expect our new 0844 number to improve the experience for anyone calling up. We will be able to provide a fast and efficient referral pathway across all services and between professionals providing patient care."

"This new number will also save the Trust money. Without this we would have to pay to route calls between our hospital sites."

The Trust does not make any money from the 0844 number which only costs callers the price of a local call, no matter where you ring from in the UK. However if you call from a mobile, standard network charges will apply.
>>

Numbers beginning 0844 967 are in BT charge band g17 which are charged at 3 pence per minute during the weekday daytime, 2 pence per minute during the evening and 1 pence per minute at the weekend from a BT landline. The prefix is allocated to Gamma Telecom.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by irrelevant on Sep 6th, 2008 at 3:03pm
How ironic - one part of Leicester's health service is taking on new 08 numbers, whilst another is at least discouragng them:

http://www.leicestermercury.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=132407&command=displayContent&sourceNode=132390&contentPK=21349980&moduleName=InternalSearch&formname=sidebarsearch

Quote:
NUMBER IS NOT UP FOR EXPENSIVE SURGERY CALLS

BY CATHY BUSS
HEALTH CORRESPONDENT

10:30 - 27 August 2008


Patients are to carry on paying higher call charges to their GP surgeries, it emerged today.

A health trust said it could not justify spending more than £1 million to pay off contracts for surgeries using the higher-cost 0844 or 0445 telephone numbers.

Instead, Leicester City Primary Care Trust (PCT) said it would work with surgeries using the numbers to warn patients of the costs of calls as soon as they ring.

At the moment, calls from a BT residential line can cost about 5p a minute, compared with 35p a minute from a Vodafone pay-as-you-go mobile.

In a package of proposed measures to cut costs being considered by the trust's board of directors later this week, there are plans to help make it quicker for patients to get through to their doctor.

There will also be help for surgeries not using the numbers but wanting to update their telephone systems.

Campaigners accused PCT managers of "tinkering at the edges of the problem".

David Gorrod, a member of the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel and former chairman of the patient and public involvement forum for Leicester's hospitals trust, said: "The PCT promised to tackle this issue some months ago.

"At the beginning, it promised effective action to rectify a system which is penalising patients.

"This is about leadership. At some stage, a decision has to be taken as to whether primary care is being led by the PCT or GPs."

One patient, who asked not to be named, said: "You can be on the phone for 20 minutes in the morning trying to get through - and all at this higher charge, which doesn't seem right.

"I find it easier to walk 20 minutes to the surgery."

Toby Sanders, the PCT's director of primary care, said he could understand disappointment, but it was difficult to justify spending £1.5 million not on clinical care.

He said the cash equated to 42,000 lifestyle checks in pharmacies and an extra 2,400 appointments for patients to see their GP in the evening or at weekends.

Mr Sanders said: "If the recommendations are approved by the PCT board, we will send a clear message to all GP practices that we will not support any new contracts being entered into with 084 number providers.

"We will work with the 25 practices with these numbers to minimise the impact of the potential cost to patients.

"This will include things such as new messages when people call surgeries, to warn them of the costs, and redesigning the messages to allow quicker access through the system."

He said he realised the recommendation might be "less than campaigners hoped for", but the review had revealed how tight and binding contracts for the telephone systems were.

Mr Sanders said: "Most of the contracts held by GPs have between five and seven years left to run.

"The package of measures proposed will help to address the position."

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 6th, 2008 at 3:35pm

Quote:
Toby Sanders, the PCT's director of primary care, said he could understand disappointment, but it was difficult to justify spending £1.5 million not on clinical care.

[…]

He said he realised the recommendation might be "less than campaigners hoped for", but the review had revealed how tight and binding contracts for the telephone systems were.

Mr Sanders said: "Most of the contracts held by GPs have between five and seven years left to run.

[…]

This shows that the telephone providers must be laughing all the way to the bank! And this is just in the Leicester area!  :o :o >:( :'(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 6th, 2008 at 4:10pm

Dave wrote on Sep 6th, 2008 at 3:35pm:

Quote:
spending £1.5 million

So Mr Sanders is content to justify NHS patients paying this sum towards the cost of obtaining NHS treatment!

One assumes that there is some exaggeration in the way in which this figure has been calculated. Furthermore, the idea of having to buy GPs out of their contracts with a single penalty payment does not represent the most sensible way of approaching a proper resolution to this problem.


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by NGMsGhost on Sep 6th, 2008 at 4:47pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 6th, 2008 at 4:10pm:
One assumes that there is some exaggeration in the way in which this figure has been calculated. Furthermore, the idea of having to buy GPs out of their contracts with a single penalty payment does not represent the most sensible way of approaching a proper resolution to this problem.


I suggest that all GPs who showed this level of utter dereliction of duty to their patients and the requirement to provide them with access to treatment within the terms of the NHS GP contract should take a substantial penalty hit on their own salaries of at least £10,000 per year for 3 years to pay towards at least a part of the cost of unscrambling the contracts.  That would make them think again about imagining that other people don't mind having to pay a little extra for something that was previously charged at normal rate.

Also surely some sort of class action could also be initiated by lawyers representing affected 0844 using NEG and other similar firms for deliberate deception by NEG and other companies about the cost of 084 calls to the surgeries involved.  I think it is doubtful that many of these GPs would have actually gone ahead with the contracts if they had been aware of issues such as the calls costing up to 40p per minute on mobile phones etc, etc.  NEG sold many of these contracts by old fashioned deliberate deception although a competent GPs surgery should have read the contract fully and done its own research before signing a contract of this nature.  Sadly it seems that many GPs and/or their gung ho and fresh faced so called practice managers did not. :o >:( :'(

Or how about a class action against Ofcom against this being an inevitable consequence of it not having not properly discharged its duties under Section 3(i) of the Commuications Act 2003? [smiley=happy.gif]

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 6th, 2008 at 5:03pm

NGMsGhost wrote on Sep 6th, 2008 at 4:47pm:
Also surely some sort of class action could also be initiated by lawyers representing affected 0844 using NEG and other similar firms for deliberate deception by NEG and other companies about the cost of 084 calls to the surgeries involved.  I think it is doubtful that many of these GPs would have actually gone ahead with the contracts if they had been aware of issues such as the calls costing up to 40p per minute on mobile phones etc, etc.  NEG sold many of these contracts by old fashioned deliberate deception although a competent GPs surgery should have read the contract fully and done its own research before signing a contract of this nature.  Sadly it seems that many GPs and/or their gung ho and fresh faced so called practice managers did not. :o >:( :'(

It seems that GPs won't do anything and that patients will have to continue to be charged for NHS services.

Of course, assuming GPs consider that they were "misold" the systems, they are in a much stronger position to take their providers to court than patients are to take the GPs to court who have broken their contracts which ban charging patients.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by NGMsGhost on Sep 6th, 2008 at 5:24pm

Dave wrote on Sep 6th, 2008 at 5:03pm:
[quote author=NGMsGhost link=1188830484/15#23 date=1220716072]Also surely some sort of class action could also be initiated by lawyers representing affected 0844 using NEG and other similar firms for deliberate deception by NEG and other companies about the cost of 084 calls to the surgeries involved.


I bet they will take action if they think they might suffer a £20,000 per annum hit in their own personal pockets on their salary from their PCT for using these numbers.

If GPs were hit in their pockets like their patients are then they would soon see the disadvantages of using an 0844 prefixed phone number. ;)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 6th, 2008 at 5:43pm
If we are considering penalties, we must note the role of the Department of Health and the PCTs who were happy to encourage and promote use of Surgery Line funded as it is out of the foolish and mistaken belief that 0844 numbers offered a "guaranteed low rate".

We must also consider those patients who are very happy to pay a little extra for a telephone service that is better than that available previously. One understands that in some surgeries their views contributed to the decision to adopt the 0844 number. Under the present arrangements covering co-payments, one could argue that they should be denied all NHS treatment from the GP.

I can understand the "punish those who are to blame" approach, and there is undoubtedly much blame that can be assigned. This should not be entirely forgotten, however I do not however see it as providing the most effective foundation for a way forward from where we are now.

Title: Media: Calling hospital still costs dear
Post by Dave on Sep 13th, 2008 at 1:03pm
Source: Evening Gazette

http://www.gazettelive.co.uk/news/teesside-news/2008/09/13/calling-hospital-still-costs-dear-84229-21807517/

Calling hospital still costs dear

<<
A TEESSIDE Hospital is continuing to profit from its patients despite promises to remove its fixed rate phone line.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust acquired an 0844 number two years ago so that it would have one number covering its three hospital sites.

But the trust reverted to its original numbers at the end of January this year following complaints from patients about the increased cost.

The calls generated about £15,000 a year for the hospitals.

The trust agreed to remove the fixed rate number from all new correspondence but today patients are still receiving letters advising them to call the 0844 number.

Councillor Julia Cherrett, of Eaglescliffe said: “I have just received a change to an outpatients appointment letter and am advised that if I can’t keep it, to telephone 0844 811 3000.

“More than six months after the Evening Gazette reported that University Hospital of North Tees had scrapped its premium rate 0844 telephone number, why are patients still receiving letters showing this number?

“People can contact the hospital at local call costs on 01642 617617 and I am calling on hospital bosses once again to make this known to people.

“They bowed to pressure to change the number back yet they are still generating an income from it.

“I appreciate they need to use up old stocks of stationery but this number was in the main body of the letter.”

Chief executive for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Alan Foster said: “We have had the 0844 number for outpatient appointments in place for some years and we overlooked this when reverting back to our original switchboard number. We’d like to thank the Gazette for bringing this to our attention.

“We will change this on appointment letters and cards as soon as we possibly can but in the meantime people phoning to cancel and change appointments can ring the department direct on 01642 383838.”
>>

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by NGMsGhost on Sep 13th, 2008 at 1:53pm
Why do they not merely have an announcement on the old 0844 number telling patients to call the geographic phone number as this will be cheaper for them.  That is what the BBC has done with its 0870 numbers.

You will note that when they closed down the geographic numbers in favour of the 0844 numbers the telco would of course had no problem with providing such announcement to call the new number IMMEDIATELY.

It seems to me the scammers actually want to keep the revenue sharing number going for as long as possible. :o >:( [smiley=thumbdown.gif] [smiley=thumbdown.gif] [smiley=thumbdown.gif]

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 16th, 2008 at 11:06am
Off topic replies have been moved to This Thread

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 18th, 2008 at 6:41pm
Source: Leicester Mercury

http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/Anger-hospitals-0844-number/article-337375-detail/article.html

Anger at hospitals' 0844 number

Thursday, September 18, 2008, 14:42

<<
Health campaigners are up in arms about a new telephone system which will hit callers in the pocket.

A new 0844 number – which will charge almost everyone who rings any of the city’s three hospitals from a landline up to 5p a minute – has been introduced by hospital bosses .

Mobile phone users are also likely to pay more.

The new system is designed to route calls through the hospitals more efficiently and be more cost-effective to the health service.

However, patients’ watchdogs say the service, brought in at the start of this month, simply passes on the NHS’ costs to the public.

[…]

Zuffar Haq, chair of the Leicester Patients’ Group and member of the Leicester Mercury Patients’ Panel, said: “I am very disappointed that the hospital trust has done this. I hope managers will think again.

“They may be saving money on routing calls between hospitals, but they have effectively transferred the cost to patients, many of whom can least afford it.”

“I am also concerned that Leicester’s hospitals have opted into this scheme while the Government is reviewing use of these numbers.”

The University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust say the new number – 0844 967 0460 – has been brought in “to provide a more effective and efficient telephone service for local people”.

The charges for calls pay for the running of the system.

Darren Brown, the trust’s telecommunications manager, said: “We expect our new 0844 number to improve the experience for anyone calling up.”

He added: “It will also save the trust money. Without this we would have to pay to route calls between our hospital sites.”

[…]

“We started out with the best of intentions. We will wait and see what the Department of Health says in its review of these numbers, If there is a problem and there is a better way of doing things we will have another look at this.”

The Mercury has been hold that hospital bosses are to meet today to discuss the issues raised over the new numbers.
>>

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Tanllan on Sep 20th, 2008 at 10:58pm

Dave wrote on Sep 18th, 2008 at 6:41pm:
The charges for calls pay for the running of the system.

Darren Brown, the trust’s telecommunications manager, said: “We expect our new 0844 number to improve the experience for anyone calling up.”

He added: “It will also save the trust money. Without this we would have to pay to route calls between our hospital sites.”

Why? Can they not employ a telecoms manager who can understand telecoms circuits and routings in 2008?
If not, why not?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by irrelevant on Sep 20th, 2008 at 11:24pm
It's also not exactly hard to send calls across any data links they might have between sites, or even across the internet!  Heck, I had one of our customers routing calls between sites down a tunnel across the internet using 512K ADSL, lines almost 10 years ago...

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Heinz on Sep 21st, 2008 at 10:11am

Tanllan wrote on Sep 20th, 2008 at 10:58pm:

Dave wrote on Sep 18th, 2008 at 6:41pm:
The charges for calls pay for the running of the system.

Darren Brown, the trust’s telecommunications manager, said: “We expect our new 0844 number to improve the experience for anyone calling up.”

He added: “It will also save the trust money. Without this we would have to pay to route calls between our hospital sites.”

Why? Can they not employ a telecoms manager who can understand telecoms circuits and routings in 2008?
If not, why not?

I think you have to take those two statements separately.  

"It will save the Trust money" is code for, "We will make money from every minute of every call because we receive a kick-back from the extra cost imposed on callers."

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Sep 21st, 2008 at 10:17pm
There was another article in Leicester Mercury on Thursday:

http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/mercuryopinion/think-costs-hospital-calls/article-334611-detail/article.html

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 24th, 2008 at 1:05am
West Hertfordshire NHS Hospital Trust, a long standing user of 0845 numbers, has excelled itself with the consultation on a bid for Foundation Trust status. It has adopted a special number for consultation comments and enquiries:

08444 776 321 is call type "g6" (5p per minute).

Some local people may be concerned about whether this is an indication of what may follow if Foundation Trust status is granted.

The information on the Trust website has been published by both the Watford Observer and the Hemel Gazette. There could be further comment to follow.

Members of the Trust Board and others have been made aware that the term "low call" refers to the fact that much more than 2p per minute can be earned from other "revenue sharing" and "premium rate" numbers.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Keith on Sep 24th, 2008 at 10:33am
Isn't it bizarre that they have a 'freepost' and a revenue earning telephone number?

I haven't time currently (got to go!) but can someone point out to them that they are in breach of 'Trading Standards Institute guidance 180805' by referring to the number as 'low call'. I have posted full details of this in recent moths on the site.

Quote:

You should not state that callers will be charged local or low raters for 084x numbers.

You should also not use the words which could imply a local or national rate e.g. Lo-call.....

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by NGMsGhost on Sep 24th, 2008 at 9:04pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 24th, 2008 at 1:05am:
Members of the Trust Board and others have been made aware that the term "low call" refers to the fact that much more than 2p per minute can be earned from other "revenue sharing" and "premium rate" numbers.


Actually the term is Lo-Call and its an old BT brand name for 0844 and 0845 numbers that they have subsequently dropped using themselves at BT Retail for their direct phone customers.  However BT Wholesale still seems to provide the term in its index description lookup file for WLR telecoms providers who still use its billing information system platform. ;) :o >:(

Meanwhile Ofcom, who has control over the content of phone bills for larger telecoms companies via its General Conditions, seems to do nothing at all to stop this continued misdescription of the price of 0844 and 0845 calls by telecoms providers other than BT. :o ::)

0844 numbers (even 1p per minutes ones that constitute probably only 0.01% of the universe of 0844 numbers while 99% ate 5p per minute) are not "Lo-Call" at all and as Keith points out it  is a breach of trading standards guidelines for any retailer to still make such a claim.  Instead 0844 are Special Rate Services numbers.  For Special Rate read different from geographic rate and usually higher.  At least the name vaguely warns consumers that they may expect to pay extra unlike Lo-Call which is a straightforward deliberate breach of Part III of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. >:(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 24th, 2008 at 10:42pm
Use of the mis-description "Low-" or "Lo-" "call" is clearly intended to mislead callers, I do not disagree.

I hope that the success of the saynoto0870 campaign over many years is helping to breed sufficient scepticism for callers to view any such description with suspicion. We have not however won the battle yet, so it is right for regulations to prohibit use of this term. I hope that someone has notified the trust and the appropriate authorities.


For myself, I am content to refer to use of the term as confirmation of the fact that 084x numbers are the lowest earning members of the group of money-earning number ranges.

I believe that those who use the term to describe their numbers must be are prepared to accept that it confirms their affiliation (albeit in a junior position) with those who make money from receiving telephone calls, because that is the only context in which the costs are relatively "low".

We await the formal re-designation by Ofcom of all revenue sharing numbers as being used for "premium rate services". Once this is done then NHS officials can take their place on the board of PhonePayPlus alongside representatives of providers of SES.


When addressing NHS and public sector users of revenue sharing numbers, I address, but do not place great emphasis on, the absolute costs of calling. The most extreme cases are caused by unwarranted profiteering by mobile telcos, over which the renters of 084x numbers have no direct control.

It is the issue of principle that is more easily addressed, as this avoids silly arguments about how many service users have which type of telephone package, which nobody knows for certain. It also avoids the need to address the perverse discounting presently applied by BT for some callers to 0845 and some 0844 numbers.

If West Herefordshire NHS Trust is ready to concede that it is making some money from those who wish to participate in its consultation, whereas it could be making much more (so as to divert less from its proper function of delivering healthcare), then this is an issue on which the people it serves may wish to express a view.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am

Dave wrote on Sep 18th, 2008 at 6:41pm:
Source: Leicester Mercury
http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/Anger-hospitals-0844-number/article-337375-detail/article.html
Anger at hospitals' 0844 number
<<Health campaigners are up in arms about a new telephone system which will hit callers in the pocket. ...  >>

BUT NOW AN UPDATE ...

Trust hangs up on 0844 number 26 September 2008


Quote:
Bosses at Leicester Hospitals have today announced that they have changed their new single telephone number from the 0844 prefix to an 0300 number. ...

"... the criticism was justified and so, we’ve listened, learnt and we’ve ditched 0844 and changed to an 0300 number, which call packages and pre-pay mobiles do recognise."

The only comment I believe worthy at this stage is to applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision and commend this example to others.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 28th, 2008 at 10:34pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:
Trust hangs up on 0844 number 26 September 2008


Extensive coverage in the Leicester Mercury 27 Sep

The following brief Press Association release is found being used around the East Midlands and also in Scotland


Quote:
Hospital chiefs in Leicester scrapped a phone number set up for patients after complaints it cost too much to use.

They replaced the 0844 prefix with an 0300 number after people on certain mobile and home phone contracts complained it was more expensive.

A spokesman said the Royal Infirmary, Glenfield and General wanted a single number for all three hospitals.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2008, All Rights Reserved.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 1st, 2008 at 1:03am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:
Trust hangs up on 0844 number 26 September 2008


Further coverage here: Trust ditches 0844 number

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by jrawle on Oct 1st, 2008 at 10:45pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 1st, 2008 at 1:03am:
Further coverage here: Trust ditches 0844 number


Would anyone like to register with the site and reply to the man from the trust:


Quote:
...the 0844 number and only to charge local land-line rates of 3p per min, applicable nationally, so giving local call rates to patients outside our catchment area too. The down side being mobile phone charges could be more for some.

Recently the 03 number was introduced and we looked at that too. Although the off-peak charges at c.1 to 2p per min were cheaper than the 0844 number, as was mobile phone use, peak-time land-line charges were c.1p per min more, plus the Trust has to subsidise callers too. So at the time we felt that the cheaper peak-time landline rates of 3p per min (when 70% or our calls happen) ...


Why are so many people dealing with telecoms so ill-informed? Don't they use phones themselves at home? Most people now have inclusive calls on their landline at home, and inclusive minutes on their mobiles. Comparing pence-per-minute rates is simply not a valid analysis any more.

There is also the issue of the cost of calls from phoneboxes.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 2nd, 2008 at 12:06am

jrawle wrote on Oct 1st, 2008 at 10:45pm:
Would anyone like to register with the site and reply to the man from the trust:

There are many points that could be discussed. I would however hope that having now changed to a 03xx number, senior executives at University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust can turn their attention to other issues. If the inevitably limited understanding they gained of telephone charging was finally sufficient to enable the right decision to be taken, I am content.

Those with time to advance the arguments for others to follow this example may wish to turn their attention to those NHS acute trusts who are still using revenue sharing 084x numbers:

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (0844 8110101)
Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust (0844 822 0002)
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (0844 811 8110)
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust (0844 8118222)
Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust (0844 811 5522)
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust (0844 811 8111)
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust (08448 113030)
North East London NHS Foundation Trust (0844 600 1200)
Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust (0845 130 4204)
Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust (0845 111 4000)
Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (0845 226 3000)
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (08454 222 222)
Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (0845 127 0 127)
Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust (0845 155 8155)
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (0845 155 5000)
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust (0845 402 4331, 08444 776 321)

... not to mention NHS Direct, many other out of hours providers, ... oh yes, and around 1000 GPs.

If they genuinely need the benefits of non-geographic numbers, then they too should change to 03xx.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 12th, 2008 at 11:48am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:
Trust hangs up on 0844 number 26 September 2008

A further announcement has given the new number - 0300 3031573.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 13th, 2008 at 2:14am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 2nd, 2008 at 12:06am:
... those NHS acute trusts who are still using revenue sharing 084x numbers: ...

Further research has produced a list of 40 NHS Trusts using revenue sharing numbers; it is available here.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 084x rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 29th, 2008 at 2:04am

Dave wrote on Oct 28th, 2008 at 8:44pm:
Source: Telegraph Rape victims have to pay when calling for help

See also Help offered to sex assault victims - Press Association.

"A person who has experienced sexual assault or rape can visit Hope House SARC or can make contact by telephone."


The new Sexual Assault Referral Centre is organised by:

Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust - 08454 221500 and Gloucestershire Constabulary - 0845 090 1234

It is hosted by Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 222 222, at the Hope House Sexual Health Clinic - 08454 226 201


Doubt has been raised about which number should be called.

So far as I can see, you pays your money and you takes your choice.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 084x rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 29th, 2008 at 2:35am
Update - Hope House Gloucester SARC

Since the information contained in the previous posting was assembled, two new items have appeared on the internet.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2008/10/28/rape-victims-forced-to-pay-for-help-call-115875-20846491/.

http://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/Other/Hope%20House%20SARC/item7954.html.

Whilst the latter item may contain good news for those who are able to arrange for a sexual assault to take place during office hours, I do not believe that it was available to the journalists at the time when they prepared their pieces. They also apparently contacted those who may have known about the alternative number that may be used to avoid calling the hospital switchboard, the Police, the PCT or the out of hours number.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Feb 27th, 2009 at 4:42pm
http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/phone-number-city-hospitals/article-703852-detail/article.html

One phone number for all city hospitals

Tuesday, February 17, 2009, 09:30

Patients calling hospitals will only have to remember one number from today.

Managers at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust have brought in a single number for its three sites – the infirmary, General and Glenfield.

Patients, visitors and the public can call 0300 303 1573.

It is the second attempt at bringing in a single number.

Last year, the trust quickly ditched a decision to bring in an 0844 number – after a public outcry about the cost.
Click here!

Darren Brown, head of telecommunications for Leicester's hospitals, said: "We originally chose 0844 as a single-number prefix but, following concerns raised by members of the public that an 0844 number could end up costing more, we looked at this again.

"We listened and learned and we've ditched 0844.

"Our new number is recognised by call packages and pre-pay mobiles and, unlike 0845 and 0844 numbers, callers cannot be charged any more than they would pay if they were calling a local number."

John Aird, the trust's information technology chief, said: "We wanted to make calling our hospitals easier and this number helps us to do that.

"Our switchboard operators answer more than a million telephone calls every year – 80 per cent within five rings."

The old telephone numbers will be phased out over the next few months.

Initially, calls will be automatically redirected, but by March callers to the General using the old number will hear a recorded message advising them of the new number.

Old numbers will not be switched off until the trust is satisfied the public is aware of the new number.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Apr 5th, 2009 at 4:41pm
Source: Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

http://www.midyorks.nhs.uk/NR/rdonlyres/FDA3BBB5-CBD8-4D8A-8F14-010F37D10B1E/69799/Microsoft_Word__FOI_response_08_177.pdf

Freedom of information Act request

Income generated from use of 0844 telephone numbers


The 0844 number covers all of our hospitals and enables us to better manage the large volume of calls we receive from patients and visitors in a quicker and more efficient way.

Our four hospitals serve a population of more than half a million people and the benefit of having our current system means that we not only have the capacity to take a large number of calls at any one time, but callers only have one number to remember when contacting any of our hospitals.

Because we know that some telephone providers now have lower standard rates and cheaper packages, we have publicised the direct telephone numbers for our wards and departments for anyone who has these inclusive packages. These have been made available to our local GPs and to our patients when they attend their appointment. We have also advertised in the Yellow Pages and we are looking at advertising in other directories.

We have also posted a contact form on our website for patients so that they can change or amend an appointment, or make a general enquiry, without picking up the phone.

Since the introduction of the 0844 number in summer 2006, the Trust has received income in the region of £82k. This money has been reinvested into services at the Trust to ensure that we deliver high quality care to our patients.


Response issued by
Assistant director of corporate affairs
5 February 2009

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Apr 5th, 2009 at 5:09pm

Dave wrote on Apr 5th, 2009 at 4:41pm:
Since the introduction of the 0844 number in summer 2006, the Trust has received income in the region of £82k.

One must assume that the Trust will have no problem making up for the loss of this wholly improper source of income, and perhaps meeting further costs that have been funded in the same improper manner, when it changes over to a 03 number in the very near future.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Apr 6th, 2009 at 10:03am
Going off topic a bit but still to do with hospitals, I found this from the Daily Telegraph staggering £100 million last year from hospital car parks?



Hospitals 'should continue to charge patients for parking'
Hospitals should continue to charge patients and visitors for car parking, despite raking in around £100 million last year, according to the body which represents healthcare trusts.


By Kate Devlin, Medical Correspondent
Last Updated: 9:27AM BST 06 Apr 2009

NHS Confederation said that the fees, which can range from £2 a day to £3 an hour, were "often necessary" because running car parks was expensive.

They were also useful to deter non-visitors from clogging spaces, it said.


However, the report, called "Fair for all, not free for all", said that it recognised that having to pay for parking could affect many patients treatment as well as their financial situation, and recommended that some be offered concessions.

The NHS in England is thought to have made around £100 million over the last year charging hospital patients and visitors to park their cars.

At the same time charges have been abolished in all but three hospitals in Scotland and are being phased out in Wales, following announcements from their devolved assemblies. Critics said that the charges were a "tax on the sick" and called for the charges to be scrapped outright.

The report recommend that some staff and patients, for example dialyses patients who need to visit hospital regularly, should benefit from cheaper car parking.

But it insists that hospitals need the revenue to ensure that medical services are not affected.

The report also says that hospitals should also be allowed to spend any extra money they make from car parking charges to improve patient care.

Additionally, some hospitals, particularly those in city centres, need to charge to deter non-visitors using parking spaces to visit nearby shops, the confederation, which represents 95 per cent of NHS organisations, warned.

Mike Hobday, head of policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "You cannot have a 'fair' parking policy when it is morally wrong to force cancer patients in England to pay to park at hospital while they have their treatment.

"This report puts the rights of hospital managers to be independent above the rights of patients to receive their healthcare free.

"The NHS must do much more than pay lip service to this important issue. Many hospitals are still ignoring guidance issued over two years ago which said that people travelling regularly to hospital must get free or reduced parking.

"As a result cancer patients have been left struggling to meet parking charges. England must catch up with the other nations and scrap this tax on illness."

Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said: "If parking charges are damaging patients' access to services, stopping their friends and relatives from visiting or impeding staff from doing their job properly then they're clearly too high."

Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat health spokesman, said that patients forced to visit hospital on a regular basis should have guarantees that they would be charged at a discounted rate.

He added: "The Department of Health already has guidelines in place but they are often flouted."

But Joe Farrington-Douglas, senior policy manager at the NHS Confederation, said that hospitals were in a difficult position.

"Hospitals need to balance the demand for free parking with ensuring access for those patients and visitors who really need to drive, reducing carbon emissions and funding the costs of running car-parks," he said.

"There should have the freedom to set policies locally to ensure they provide fair access but not always free parking.

"There is no doubt that car parking can become a controversial and heated issue, especially when you have very ill people who need to be driven to hospital for regular treatment or night workers who have no option other than the car because of the hours they work.

"For their part hospitals feel the need to charge for parking, both to recoup the cost of running their car parks and to prevent their misuse.

A spokesmen for the Department of Health said: "We do not think it a sensible use of tax payer's money to subsidise free car parking at hospitals for anyone who wants to use it."

The report also recommended that hospitals should consider the environment when considering transport to their facilities.

Title: Still OT - NHS hospital car parking
Post by Heinz on Apr 6th, 2009 at 11:25am
............. and you should see the number Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's 'parking enforcement officers' patrolling the roads around Southend General Hospital (now, ridiculously, called Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust) to try to catch those trying to avoid the charges by parking on nearby streets!

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Sep 30th, 2009 at 1:51pm
A bit more on this subject.....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8282730.stm

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:20pm

sherbert wrote on Sep 30th, 2009 at 1:51pm:
A bit more on this subject.....

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8282730.stm

There are some very proper issues of concern around car parking, but it is important to distinguish between the principles involved with that and those involving revenue sharing telephone numbers.

It is right for the patient to incur their own costs (i.e. those of a normal call from their chosen provider) when contacting the NHS, but not to pay a premium to the benefit of the NHS provider.

It is reasonable for most patients to incur transport and associated costs when visiting a hospital. If there is normally a charge for parking in the area where the hospital is located, then car parking costs would be a normal expense. If a hospital is able to provide free or cheap parking as a sensible use of land that it has, then that is great. If a hospital is clearly exploiting patients and visitors then that is wrong.

I do not believe that existing NHS facilities should necessarily be turned into free public car parks, which is what would be achieved by a simple ban on car parking charges. Each situation is different. If the land used for a car park was not required by a hospital for any other purpose (e.g. possible future development) then it would be best for the NHS for this to be sold off if the hospital was not permitted to itself charge for car parking.

If someone is going to claim the right to park for free when attending a NHS hospital, then a lot of central London hospitals are going to incur some enormous expenses.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 1st, 2009 at 8:18am
Sorry SilentCallsVictim for once I am going to have to disagree with you.

I do not think it is acceptable if someone is in hospital for some time and their visitors are expected too pay ridiculous car park charges to   visit a patient. Down my neck of the woods, if you visited some one on a daily basis for a week , you would be forking out over £50 a week. This can't be right. If you had to go to A & E for any reason, a four hour wait is costing you in the car park (rather like being kept on hold on a rip off telephone number) and that is before you are seen by a doctor, the car park costs are mounting up as you wait to be  treated. No wonder there are less and less volunteers doing hospital visits.

Scotland & Wales have banned these charges, so should England. After all we are supposed to live in the 'United Kingdom

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 1st, 2009 at 11:43am
I did say -


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:20pm:
If a hospital is clearly exploiting patients and visitors then that is wrong.

It does not follow that a central London hospital should be required to pay the car parking costs of all patients and visitors (I should have added, staff). I do not think it right that a hospital that happens to have spare land that can be used for car parking should be obliged to sell it off or lease it out so that a private operator can use it to make money, because the hospital itself is not allowed to charge.



sherbert wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 8:18am:
After all we are supposed to live in the 'United Kingdom'


This argument would appear to suggest that the recent announcement on this topic by the Secretary of State for Health for the government of the "United" Kingdom should apply to all parts of it. One cannot oppose what is referred to as the "postcode lottery" and also oppose central control. The suggestion that the UK be governed from Cardiff (Holyrood followed in the matter referred to) is interesting.


These arguments come very close to the nonsense proposed by the Liberal Democrats - that all telephone calls to public bodies should be free to caller. Speaking for myself, I do not want to weaken the strong argument that we hold by stretching it to ridiculous extremes.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Oct 1st, 2009 at 11:55am
I'm with Sherbert on this 100%, I think it is a tax on the sick to charge for car parking, no one (unless insane!) goes to hospital by choice, it is a medical necessity, sickness itself often causes people greater expense than everyday life.  In many areas, there is NO alternative to using the car to get to hospital (mainly but not exclusively rural as buses in urban areas do not always go where travellers may need).  SCV's point about expensive parking in an area is not relevant as one might avoid areas where the parking is expensive but one cannot do this with regards to a hospital.  Our nearest hospital (Addenbrookes) charges extortionate rates, offers only a multistorey car park (not nice for perhaps vulnerable people and elderly women alone at night visiting relatives) and all, whether patients or visitors, face a very long walk as the site is so large.  Admittedly, in 2007 (don't know about now) they did offer a season ticket for anyone with a relative as an inpatient but, often particularly in emergency admissions, you don't know how long the person will be in there so is a season ticket worth it (only if longer than a week), also they don't volunteer the information, a nurse told us to ask.   Employees are also charged so, for example, someone we know who works in the labs can be called in any time of the day or night to perform essential tests eg on an organ for transplant but has to pay to park!   That is EVIL.

The problem of use by people not patients or visitors used to be resolved at Addenbrookes by having specific car parks for different groups eg out patients where an attendant checked appointment letters.   Now, of course, they can rake in even more by keeping people waiting beyond appointment times (not just in A&E) so they exceed their ticket & can then be fined!

To me, charging for car parking at hospitals is a tax on access to health care, simple as that and as such breaches the NHS principles.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 1st, 2009 at 12:45pm
From today's DailyTelegraph

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/6247325/Hospital-car-parking-charges-to-be-scrapped.html

Of course I doubt any of this will happen. It wont happen until after the election and the Conservatives have not, to my knowledge, made any comments on this subject.

I guess Labour's point of view, it makes good election propagander and as they know they wont get in and they can say anything. ::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 1st, 2009 at 1:44pm
Noting the Telegraph item, has anybody seriously considered the cost to hospitals that do not happen to have sufficient car parking facilities? Mr Burnham will find that his vouchers will not be accepted by private car park providers and local authorities with controlled parking schemes without some appropriate payment. Almost all planned car parking provision underestimated the level of demand. Under-provision is now deliberate in an attempt to discourage use of private cars.

I did refer to Andy Burnham's announcement previously. The Telegraph is quite wrong in saying that "similar announcements" have been made in Wales and Scotland; they are far more radical and are not planned for introduction in three years time.

There are many injustices in the way that the costs of our love affair with the private car are distributed. The impact of the difficulties involved in properly assessing the level of need for a public parking space, so as to ensure that limited spaces are allocated fairly sit very high amongst these. In a consumerist world we end up resorting to price as the answer to everything. If anyone can propose a realistic way in which all hospitals can resolve this issue, I would love to hear it. If we are to add free car parking to one's rights under the NHS, then why not free transport for those who do not use their cars (a lot cheaper in many cases) and why not free telephone calls to and from hospitals?

The pain referred to is real and wrong. The simplest remedy is not however the only one that should be considered.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 1st, 2009 at 2:03pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 1:44pm:
/ then why not free transport for those who do not use their cars (a lot cheaper in many cases) and why not free telephone calls to and from hospitals?
/


Actually we did have a free mini bus running between Horsham, Crawley & Redhill hospitals for staff as well as patients, sadly this was withdrawn about a couple of years ago see here http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-170124390.html also here http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/district/Hospital-bus-petition-success.3396579.jp

I believe there is still folk trying to get the service restored

As regards to your point why not free telephone calls to and from hospitals, well if phoning to a hospital and the  number was a geographical number then it would be 'free' within the inclusive packages that are on offer.

Usually I agree with what you say SilentCallsVictim but I am afraid  on this subject our views seem to differ and I am very pleased that Barbara sees my point of view.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 1st, 2009 at 2:37pm

sherbert wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 2:03pm:
Actually we did have a free mini bus running between Horsham, Crawley & Redhill hospitals for staff as well as patients

This is great and to be applauded as a way of addressing a particular local need, where this is a proper and affordable use of NHS resources.

I am aware of other multi-site hospital trusts that continue to provide a similar facility. There are a number of hospitals that have a free "golf buggy" taxi service within a single site, staffed by volunteers and made possible by donations and sponsorship. I firmly believe that these valuable and useful additional services should not be undermined by demanding that they must be provided universally. With the NHS as it is, we must leave room on top for voluntary effort, sponsored add-ons and philanthropic activities to complement universal provision; these must not be drawn into the field of normal provision, nor allowed to unduly distort it.

It is an enormous, and I believe improper, step to jump from these positive situations to suggest that free transport from home to hospital must be provided everywhere and for everyone as a matter of right. This is just as silly as suggesting that because BT offers inclusive calls to 0845 numbers, use of 084 numbers does not need to be banned.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 1st, 2009 at 2:51pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 2:37pm:
This is just as silly as suggesting that because BT offers inclusive calls to 0845 numbers, use of 084 numbers does not need to be banned.



I accept that point  :-[

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 5:01am
Of course hospitals should charge for parking. The charge should be great enough to give an incentive for patients and visitors to use public transport. So if it costs, say, 50p for a bus ticket from town, the carpark should cost £2 — double the cost of using public transport.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Heinz on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 7:35am

Stoday wrote on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 5:01am:
Of course hospitals should charge for parking. The charge should be great enough to give an incentive for patients and visitors to use public transport. So if it costs, say, 50p for a bus ticket from town, the carpark should cost £2 — double the cost of using public transport.

When my Mother was in hospital, my wife and I visited every day.  We lived 40 miles away and, using public transport, would, fairly typically of this country, have involved travelling on 3 buses and 2 trains, would have taken in excess of 3 hours in each direction and would have cost £47 each way.

Needless to say, we use our car for the cost of (ignoring insurance, VED, depreciation and so on) just under 2 gallons of petrol - say £10.  Are you saying we should have paid £94 to park our car?  If so, for how long, an hour, per hour?

How would the cost have been established?  Would a long questionnaire have to be completed by each visitor with an adjudicator then assessing each application?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 9:05am

Stoday wrote on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 5:01am:
Of course hospitals should charge for parking. The charge should be great enough to give an incentive for patients and visitors to use public transport. So if it costs, say, 50p for a bus ticket from town, the carpark should cost £2 — double the cost of using public transport.



Great idea if there is any decent public transport. Sadly in my neck of the woods it would take three hours each way to do the twenty mile  journey by public transport and then a good walk from where the bus stops near the hospital. For the other hospital which is twenty miles in the other direction, I would guess you would need to set out the day before.

Great to pontificate if you have a good public transport system, but sadly most of us haven't. :(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 10:02am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 1:44pm:
...  In a consumerist world we end up resorting to price as the answer to everything. If anyone can propose a realistic way in which all hospitals can resolve this issue, I would love to hear it.

I hope that the recent exchanges have demonstrated the difficulties involved in resolving the issue of car parking.


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 30th, 2009 at 7:20pm:
There are some very proper issues of concern around car parking, but it is important to distinguish between the principles involved with that and those involving revenue sharing telephone numbers.

A simpler way of making my point would have been to say that use of revenue sharing telephone numbers by the NHS is plainly and simply unacceptable. The cases for and against particular levels of car parking charge in particular areas for particular people are much more complex.

(Within this thread, and indeed this forum, we should try to keep our comments relevant to the topic. I declare a passionate concern about the NHS and am myself guilty of being drawn off-topic.)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Oct 2nd, 2009 at 10:39am
Here, here, Heinz & Sherbert!  Where does Stoday live?   In some parts of the country, it is not even possible to complete a return journey on the same day, there was an infamous situation quoted in the West Country, I think, but not anywhere particularly remote, where people needing to use the bus from a particular village to access the nearest town for shopping etc could travel to the town on say a Tuesday but couldn't get a return bus until say Thursday!   In our village (about 45 miles from central London) there are outlying parts which are in excess of two miles from the nearest bus stop (never mind the infrequency of the service) - is Stoday suggesting that sick people, probably unable to walk very far at the best of times, should walk over two miles to catch a bus (there might be two or three a day on market days) to the nearest town where they would have to wait for a bus to take them part of the way then change & wait again?   For a 9am appointment possibly?   Get real, not everyone lives in urban areas although we in the countryside are more than used to being ignored in all things!!

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 3:03am
I said "as an incentive" not to ensure public transport is used exclusively. You can't have different car parking prices according to where users live. The cost of a bus from the nearby town is the relevant journey.

Clearly,  some users will find it more difficult and expensive to travel by public transport than others, eliminating the incentive. They could choose to travel by car as a cheaper option.

The marginal cost of a car journey is a lot lower than the average running cost and this produces a perverse incentive to use a car instead of public transport (which includes a taxi). The provision of free car parking increases that incentive. I see no good reason why the NHS should subsidise those fortunate enough to be able to run a car and are still capable of driving. The provision of car parking is a resource that has value. I've suggested a way of identifying that value, by relating it to the cost of a bus from town. An alternative indication of value would be to set prices such that the car park gets filled for most of the day.

Of course, costs should be offset for patients who need frequent visits, such as for cancer therapy and dialysis. In such cases there should be a subsidy for travel or for carpark costs, in everyones favour, car driver or not.




Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 9:20am

Stoday wrote on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 3:03am:
I said "as an incentive" not to ensure public transport is used exclusively. You can't have different car parking prices according to where users live. The cost of a bus from the nearby town is the relevant journey.

Clearly,  some users will find it more difficult and expensive to travel by public transport than others, eliminating the incentive. They could choose to travel by car as a cheaper option.

The marginal cost of a car journey is a lot lower than the average running cost and this produces a perverse incentive to use a car instead of public transport (which includes a taxi). The provision of free car parking increases that incentive. I see no good reason why the NHS should subsidise those fortunate enough to be able to run a car and are still capable of driving. The provision of car parking is a resource that has value. I've suggested a way of identifying that value, by relating it to the cost of a bus from town. An alternative indication of value would be to set prices such that the car park gets filled for most of the day.

Of course, costs should be offset for patients who need frequent visits, such as for cancer therapy and dialysis. In such cases there should be a subsidy for travel or for carpark costs, in everyones favour, car driver or not.


First paragraph.....

Why not? It happens already, it is different in Wales and Scotland and they are in the same NHS

Third paragraph....

Why stop here? What about stroke victims, patients that have been in horrific car crashes, people who have been beaten up by thugs on a Saturday night, etc. etc.?

What about the person  who wants to visit their friend/relation who has been unfortunate to have been hospitalised for a period of time are you are seriously suggesting that what Heinz stated in his post is acceptable (in paying out all that money to visit someone)?

I guess by the structure and the tone of your posts, you live in a city with adequate transport to deliver your good self to your local hospital when you need. As I said before, it is impossible to use public transport in my neck of the woods to go to a hospital , (unless you want to take a week off first)

You are forgetting we pay a huge amount of money to the NHS via our contributions every month. What you are saying is, like having your car repaired at the garage and then them saying , oh by the way we are charging you for parking here until we get around to do it.

Oh dear Stoday I fear you are not living in the real world

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 2:03pm

sherbert wrote on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 9:20am:
You are forgetting we pay a huge amount of money to the NHS via our contributions every month.

Having urged us to stop discussing this issue in depth in this thread, I cannot resist being drawn back in by this consumerist argument.

The fundamental principle of the NHS is that it is paid for by progressive taxation (by the fit and well) and provided to those in need regardless of their level of contribution.

The matter of encouraging a shift from the private car to public transport is an important issue of public policy, but immensely difficult and complex to effect fairly. It does become part of the consideration of hospital car parking charges. The issues are indeed commonly different between urban and rural areas. I do not have the figures to hand, but I suspect that the population distributions between the two are different for Wales and Scotland as against England. Populist politics sadly causes universal application of whatever is seen to suit the majority, that is not democracy.

The argument that poor provision of public transport in rural areas justifies free parking for visits to urban hospitals is no more valid than the reverse argument. Please can we agree that there is no single simple rule on this matter that must be applied in every case.

Apart from the consumerist irrelevance quoted above, the arguments being advanced are all reasonable, but they apply to different situations differently, confirming my point.

This is different to the matter of use of revenue sharing telephone numbers which cannot be justified for the NHS in any situation.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 2:09pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 2:03pm:
Having urged us to stop discussing this issue in depth in this thread


Okey doke, I have made my point and will now cease as this will go on and on.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Oct 3rd, 2009 at 4:58pm
OK, will stop but only after I've again agreed with Sherbert!  (can't stand this "green" nonsense anyway, makes my blood boil, not good for health).

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Oct 4th, 2009 at 3:20pm
Well, we can all agree that 0845 numbers should not be used by hospitals even though we disagree about car parking charges. The latter was wandering too far off topic, so I too shall shut up about it.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 4th, 2009 at 5:06pm
We can continue the discussion by PM or email, or in any public forum that someone would like to suggest. We can move onto prescription and dental charges, eye tests, treatments not sanctioned by NICE, private treatment in NHS hospitals, NHS treatment in private hospitals and any other topic.

I am starting to get interested in the matter of retail concessions within NHS premises. I am also concerned about proposals to locate NHS facilities, other than pharmacies who require a retail element to their business, away from a proper healthcare setting (e.g. within a supermarket).

Perhaps the most disturbing proposal is the idea of bringing "care services" within the scope of the NHS. As these are currently funded quite differently, there is a severe danger that a combined service would have to sacrifice its clear principles beyond the point to which they are heavily qualified already.


There is a deadline by which the question of whether or not premium telephone charges are to be banned must be resolved.

The Health Bill returns to the floor on the Commons on 12 October for its final stages before Royal Assent (it started in the Lords). Whilst the main discussion will be around tobacco advertising, its first section imposes a legal duty on NHS providers to have regard to the NHS Constitution. This includes to right to treatment without charge apart from exceptions "sanctioned by parliament".

There is currently no sanction for the use of telephone numbers that cause patients to incur a premium charge to the benefit of the user. The Department of Health appears to believe that there will come a time when there is no surcharge by any telephone service provider on calls to 084x numbers. Until that point arrives (I hope and believe that it never will), use of 084x numbers must either be banned or sanctioned by parliament.

Before the Bill passes without an amendment to add such a sanction, it is vital that the position regarding the ban is clarified. If the situation remains as it is, or if it is clarified to not cover 084x numbers, then on the day that the Health Bill becomes law I will personally attempt to commence the appropriate proceedings against every NHS body using a 084x number in defiance of the law. (Compliance by GPs needs to be enforced through the terms of their contract, so that will have to wait if the contract is going through a lengthy process of amendment, which one would hope to influence.)

I hope that others will join me in lobbying MPs and Ministers to ensure that we have a proper resolution.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 7th, 2009 at 2:57pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Oct 4th, 2009 at 5:06pm:
I hope that others will join me in lobbying MPs and Ministers to ensure that we have a proper resolution.

Part of the action that I have taken is in a circulated briefing.

Please feel free to copy any of the points made in your own lobbying.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 14th, 2009 at 9:52am
My, unusually Political, blog on the effects of the concluding stages of the Health Bill deliberations in parliament is found at:
http://nhspatient.blogspot.com/2009/10/theft-of-nhs.html.

It is highly relevant to this topic.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 9th, 2010 at 8:13am

Barbara wrote on Oct 1st, 2009 at 11:55am:
I'm with Sherbert on this 100%, I think it is a tax on the sick to charge for car parking, no one (unless insane!) goes to hospital by choice, it is a medical necessity, sickness itself often causes people greater expense than everyday life.  In many areas, there is NO alternative to using the car to get to hospital (mainly but not exclusively rural as buses in urban areas do not always go where travellers may need).  SCV's point about expensive parking in an area is not relevant as one might avoid areas where the parking is expensive but one cannot do this with regards to a hospital.  Our nearest hospital (Addenbrookes) charges extortionate rates, offers only a multistorey car park (not nice for perhaps vulnerable people and elderly women alone at night visiting relatives) and all, whether patients or visitors, face a very long walk as the site is so large.  Admittedly, in 2007 (don't know about now) they did offer a season ticket for anyone with a relative as an inpatient but, often particularly in emergency admissions, you don't know how long the person will be in there so is a season ticket worth it (only if longer than a week), also they don't volunteer the information, a nurse told us to ask.   Employees are also charged so, for example, someone we know who works in the labs can be called in any time of the day or night to perform essential tests eg on an organ for transplant but has to pay to park!   That is EVIL.

The problem of use by people not patients or visitors used to be resolved at Addenbrookes by having specific car parks for different groups eg out patients where an attendant checked appointment letters.   Now, of course, they can rake in even more by keeping people waiting beyond appointment times (not just in A&E) so they exceed their ticket & can then be fined!

To me, charging for car parking at hospitals is a tax on access to health care, simple as that and as such breaches the NHS principles.


According to today's Daily Telegraph NHS car parks earn more than £100 million. The most profitable hospital was at Epsom and St Hellier University Hospitals NHS trust in Surrey which clamped 1,671 cars and made £1.85 million profit. >:(

Hospital car parking is free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so much for a United Kingdom. ::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 8:13am:
...
Hospital car parking is free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so much for a United Kingdom.

This posting appears to be calling for the abolition of the devolved "national" parliaments and assemblies, so as to remove the capacity of their governments to prohibit hospital car park charges. I am sure that the author will be happy to explain the point at whatever length is necessary, if there is perhaps a more complex proposal lying behind the argument that is being advanced.

I do not intend to continue, or provoke, a full debate on the difficult issue of how far responsibility may be devolved in the management of our National Health Service, which covers all of our United Kingdom (we sadly suffer from the word "National" having two different meanings). Efforts to address the topic of this thread do expose aspects of this issue. It can however be fully and effectively addressed without having to consider constitutional change within the NHS in England or elsewhere, let alone at any more fundamental level.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the principles of the NHS demand that patients incur no incidental costs in accessing NHS services. I do not wish our campaign to be seen as a call for NHS providers to offer free telephone calls, by associating it with that for them to offer free car parking. (If the NHS is to be required to meet the costs associated with transport that patients incur when attending a Hospital as a matter of right, I believe that this right must extend well beyond patients and their visitors who are able to park on land that happens to be owned by the Hospital.)

I see the demand that telephone callers are not subjected to a surcharge due to use of revenue sharing numbers to be quite adequate for restoring the principles of the NHS. I fear that in trying to press the issue further we risk weakening our case. Calling for more control to be exercised centrally is a position unlikely to attract much support, so I put aside my serious concerns about the legitimacy of some bodies (not the national governments) holding devolved powers.


If the above points are "on topic" I hope it is therefore acceptable to duplicate the essence of a posting made in another thread, as it is relevant to NHS hospitals on ALL 084 rip-off numbers.


SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 12:19am:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Dec 24th, 2009 at 2:21am:
Members may be interested to note that the Directions to NHS bodies referred to in the September 14 Statement were issued on Monday afternoon.

The formal directions accompanied a "Dear colleague" letter.

...
The first public declaration of a failure to properly comply with these Directions has now appeared, just before half way into the period within which action is required. I refer to this and comment at even more than normal length in this blog posting.

Members may wish to follow the common pattern of copying chunks of the NHS Devon Statement into the forum for all to comment.

Whilst I address the NHS Devon statement in detail, I am most concerned about getting Ofcom to support the Department of Health in bringing an end to the nonsense, of which this is just one example. In an odd way, I am very grateful to NHS Devon for having helped to bring this into the open.

I hope that other campaigning members will join me in putting pressure on Ofcom to issue some clear statement of the status quo, regardless of what it may be planning for the future.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 9th, 2010 at 3:17pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 8:13am:
...
Hospital car parking is free in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, so much for a United Kingdom.

This posting appears to be calling for the abolition of the devolved "national" parliaments and assemblies, so as to remove the capacity of their governments to prohibit hospital car park charges. I am sure that the author will be happy to explain the point at whatever length is necessary, if there is perhaps a more complex proposal lying behind the argument that is being advanced.

I do not intend to continue, or provoke, a full debate on the difficult issue of how far responsibility may be devolved in the management of our National Health Service, which covers all of our United Kingdom (we sadly suffer from the word "National" having two different meanings). Efforts to address the topic of this thread do expose aspects of this issue. It can however be fully and effectively addressed without having to consider constitutional change within the NHS in England or elsewhere, let alone at any more fundamental level.

Furthermore, I do not believe that the principles of the NHS demand that patients incur no incidental costs in accessing NHS services. I do not wish our campaign to be seen as a call for NHS providers to offer free telephone calls, by associating it with that for them to offer free car parking.




If Scotland Ireland & Wales want to run their affairs seperatly from England then so be it. Let them have their independence and let us stop dishing out money from Whitehall and get rid of their MPs from Westminster. However for once I agree with SCV, this is going off topic.

With regards to what SCV describes as 'incidental expenses', I do not accept that having to pay upwards of £60 a week for the privilege of visiting your nearest and dearest in a hospital bed to be either fair or morally correct. Why is it that only England are charging for these 'incidental expenses'?

I have no problem in seeing  our campaign to be seen as a call for NHS providers to offer free telephone calls, by associating it with that for them to offer free car parking. I will continue to campaign for free hospital car parking in England, here and elsewhere whether SCV likes it or not.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 9th, 2010 at 6:44pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 3:17pm:
With regards to what SCV describes as 'incidental expenses', I do not accept that having to pay upwards of £60 a week for the privilege of visiting your nearest and dearest in a hospital bed to be either fair or morally correct. Why is it that only England are charging for these 'incidental expenses'?

Campaigners on this particular topic will be aware that the previous Secretary of State introduced limited measures to address this issue for England. We have yet to see whether these will be allowed to go ahead by the present government.

I can appreciate the concern expressed for a particular case. Would this not be the same if one had to travel by taxi, if the hospital had no car park, or if one had to use an alternative chargeable car park some distance away because the free hospital car park was filled with the cars of hospital staff and contractors or others who were not currently attending the hospital?

I regret to say that I believe a potentially complex, locally-devised scheme of exemptions and discounts for in-patients, out-patients, patient visitors, volunteers, staff, contractors and others with business at the hospital to be the only fair and morally correct way to proceed. The issues of how much parking space a hospital must provide, how it rations inadequate space that it has and how far it should encourage use of public transport also add further complications to the matter.



sherbert wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 3:17pm:
I have no problem in seeing  our campaign to be seen as a call for NHS providers to offer free telephone calls, by associating it with that for them to offer free car parking. I will continue to campaign for free hospital car parking in England, here and elsewhere whether SCV likes it or not.

I sincerely hope that nobody chooses the subject of their campaigning efforts in order to please me. We disagree, in that I believe the cost of totally abolishing car parking charges on NHS hospital property or subsidising the full cost of telephone calls to the NHS is not justified as an addition to the structural deficit, or in place of other useful expenditure on NHS services.

I am prepared to argue that the cost of the loss of revenue share subsidy on 084 numbers must be carried by NHS bodies and contractors.

Free hospital car parking would undoubtedly be welcomed, especially in areas where free parking is not otherwise available. I believe that the measure would have unintended bad effects and would be unfair to those who have to incur significant costs in travelling to hospitals by other means, or who visit a hospital without a car park (or without any available spaces). There are some who would see it as morally incorrect to introduce a measure that encourages use of the private car.

I do however believe that everything possible should be done to ease, or totally relieve, any burden of incidental cost on those using NHS services.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 9th, 2010 at 6:59pm
As I have said previously it (free hospital car parking) has happened in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, without too much effort, so why is England so special that it can not  be done here? :-?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 10th, 2010 at 12:48am

sherbert wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 6:59pm:
As I have said previously it (free hospital car parking) has happened in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, without too much effort, so why is England so special that it can not  be done here? :-?

An answer to an essentially political question is invited. Some would suggest that the devolved "national" governments find it easy to implement irresponsible populist measures, because they do not have to themselves raise the revenue to cover the cost. It may also be that with a more rural balance of communities there are fewer cases where the unintended bad effects are seen.

Do the measures that have been put in place for England not address the issue?

I continue to battle furiously to see the ill-specified measures that should form the basis for banning use of 084 numbers in England hospitals achieve the intended effect.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by derrick on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:23pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm:
..........on land that happens to be owned by the Hospital.)............



It isn't owned by the hospital, it is owned by us, the taxpayer!

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:46pm

derrick wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:23pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm:
..........on land that happens to be owned by the Hospital.)............



It isn't owned by the hospital, it is owned by us, the taxpayer!



Here here.

As soon as people realise that the NHS is owned by the tax payer and by no one else the better.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:14pm

derrick wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:23pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 9th, 2010 at 2:00pm:
..........on land that happens to be owned by the Hospital.)............

It isn't owned by the hospital, it is owned by us, the taxpayer!

Exactly, it is owned by us all, even those of us who do not pay taxes.

Every public asset should be used wisely and economically. If the land is not needed for hospital buildings, perhaps it should be sold off to raise money for the NHS or to reduce the deficit/our taxes; NCP might be interested in buying it!

Should taxpayer's money be used to provide free parking for all NHS hospital staff, patients and visitors? This would be extremely expensive for Central London hospitals and other places where the hospital does not have sufficient land of its own to use for the purpose.

The sooner that people realise that the NHS is owned by us all, regardless of how much we pay towards it through our taxes, and its services are (should be) available to us all without charge, the better.

Car parking and use of the telephone network are not NHS services. There are however particular circumstances (most notably emergencies) where it is appropriate for free telephone calls and free transport to be provided at the expense of the taxpayer. I believe that these should be extended as far as is possible, however the taxpayer must not be pushed too far.

I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient. That is why use of revenue sharing numbers must be ceased.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by loddon on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:19pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:46pm:
Here here.

.


I think it is usually  "Hear Hear"  :) :)   sherbert.  Best wishes.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:52pm

loddon wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:19pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 2:46pm:
Here here.

.


I think it is usually  "Hear Hear"  :) :)   sherbert.  Best wishes.



:-[ :-[

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 10th, 2010 at 4:00pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:14pm:
[
Should taxpayer's money be used to provide free parking for all NHS hospital staff, patients and visitors? This would be extremely expensive for Central London hospitals and other places where the hospital does not have sufficient land of its own to use for the purpose.


But surely it always used to be free? I remember when my local hospitals never charged for parking. I also remember visiting my late mother in the Royal Free Hospital in London about 25 years ago and never had to pay to park in their car park. No, what has happened is that they have found a money making scam to screw their customers (patients and visitors) and now they would be in a bit of a hole without that source of revenue. >:(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 10th, 2010 at 4:32pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:14pm:
I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient. That is why use of revenue sharing numbers must be ceased.


The patient normally is a tax payer. ::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 10th, 2010 at 7:08pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 4:00pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:14pm:
Should taxpayer's money be used to provide free parking for all NHS hospital staff, patients and visitors? This would be extremely expensive for Central London hospitals and other places where the hospital does not have sufficient land of its own to use for the purpose.

But surely it always used to be free? I remember when my local hospitals never charged for parking. I also remember visiting my late mother in the Royal Free Hospital in London about 25 years ago and never had to pay to park in their car park. No, what has happened is that they have found a money making scam to screw their customers (patients and visitors) and now they would be in a bit of a hole without that source of revenue.

You may have found that there were plenty of spaces in the car park and free parking spaces available in the surrounding streets. Increased car ownership and use, and the measures taken to control the ill effects of this, are significant factors in explaining the difference between now and 25 years ago. To visit the old Royal Free site in Gray's Inn Road by car you would now have to pay the Congestion Charge - should that be refunded by the NHS?

"I remember when" I could park for free outside my own front door. That was less than 10 years ago. Others in the area could not park anywhere near their home, so they asked for and were given a residents only parking zone, for which we have to pay. (I am not happy with the process used to make these decisions, but that is a quite separate issue.)


Times have changed, in many ways for the worse. The core principles of the NHS however remain largely intact after 60 years. I seek to protect them by halting a creeping erosion. I fear that if we try to extend them, e.g. by adding a right to free parking for all patients and visitors, we may lose the more modest bit of ground that we are fighting to win back.

Money is tight, especially at present. I do not want those who manage hospital budgets for us to be forced into the position where they have to sell off the land presently used for public car parking because they are not allowed to use it in the way that any other landowner would. I have said before that I am fully in favour of potentially complex schemes to provide free or discounted parking for patients and visitors.

NHS Hospital sites, including their car parks, are public spaces (owned by us all). Free parking, as I believe it is applied in the "nations", means free for all. When there were fewer cars on the road there was generally no justification for parking charges, so there was no issue. Times have changed.


(Thanks for stimulating my thinking on this subject. I will put some further thoughts into a blog posting and provide a link when it is done.)


sherbert wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 4:32pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 10th, 2010 at 3:14pm:
I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient. That is why use of revenue sharing numbers must be ceased.
The patient normally is a tax payer.

Yes. I hope the difference between the taxpayer and the patient paying is understood. This difference is fundamental to the concept of the NHS, indeed to the principles of taxation.

If there were no difference, as may be implied, why would there be a problem with use of revenue sharing, or indeed true premium rate, telephone numbers if they helped to raise money to pay for NHS services?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Jun 11th, 2010 at 9:31am
Here, here sherbert!  

Re post 85, EVERYONE pays taxes, think eg VAT on goods & services.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:32am

Barbara wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 9:31am:
Here, here sherbert!  

Re post 85, EVERYONE pays taxes, think eg VAT on goods & services.

I may sometimes write at undue length, however I am confused by the brevity of the comments on this point.

The term "taxpayer" could be said to cover all citizens; there is no need to argue about that. The term is however normally used in this type of discussion, rather than "citizen", to imply some sort of consumer right proportionate to the amount that is paid for a service through taxation. Paying taxes that are due is but one of a citizen's many responsibilities, shared ownership of the NHS including treatment "free at the point of need" is but one of a citizen's rights. Clearly some particular point is being made by picking out this relationship between the two as if it had some special significance. I cannot understand what point is being made.

Is it being suggested that because there is no difference between "patients" and "taxpayers" it does not matter how NHS bodies cover the cost of their telephone systems and other costs? Is it equally acceptable to do this through use of revenue sharing telephone numbers, which indirectly impose a cost on patients, and charges on patients for car parking, as against revenue from the exchequer derived from taxation?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:13pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:32am:
I may sometimes write at undue length,


That has got to be the understatement of the year.

In place of 'may sometimes ' substitute 'always'

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:35pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:13pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:32am:
I may sometimes write at undue length,


That has got to be the understatement of the year.

In place of 'may sometimes ' substitute 'always'

I am tempted to make an equally rude comment about "understatement", which is too kind a word to descibe postings that make no contribution whatsoever to the discussion.

Please will somebody explain the relevance (if any) of "taxpayer" = "patient" to this topic.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:46pm
Your post #85


I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient.


What we are saying, they are one of the same.


postings that make no contribution whatsoever to the discussion.


Well, some of us will disagree with you on that. We make contributions as we see fit and not how you see fit.



Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 11th, 2010 at 1:24pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:46pm:
Your post #85


I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient.


What we are saying, they are one of the same.
Not necessarily. Those without UK residency are entitled to some NHS services at no cost. Outpatient A&E is one example. I am not a UK taxpayer. I am not a UK resident. I could be classed as a patient but not a taxpayer.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 11th, 2010 at 1:34pm
Not at all as Barbara said in her post #91 everyone pays taxes, when you come over to this country you are paying taxes (for example VAT).

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 11th, 2010 at 2:12pm
Perhaps it would help comprehension if I repeated my postings one sentence at a time.

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:32am:
The term "taxpayer" could be said to cover all citizens; there is no need to argue about that.


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 11th, 2010 at 2:13pm
Perhaps it would help comprehension if I repeated my postings one sentence at a time.

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 11:32am:
Is it being suggested that because there is no difference between "patients" and "taxpayers" it does not matter how NHS bodies cover the cost of their telephone systems?


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 11th, 2010 at 7:08pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 6:58pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 6:54pm:
The topic of GPs using 084 numbers was raised in the Scottish Parliament yesterday -
http://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=2010-06-10.27207.0&s=084+OR+0844+OR+0845#g27207.1.

Ms Sturgeon has been reminded that the same principle applies to all NHS providers.

As well as NHS 24, it also applies to other NHS providers in Scotland, including hospitals.

I look forward to a possibly interesting discussion about whether English and Scottish taxpayers and NHS patients represent one, two, three or four distinct groups. I say two, but perhaps not the same two that others may be thinking of.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:22am

sherbert wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 1:34pm:
Not at all as Barbara said in her post #91 everyone pays taxes, when you come over to this country you are paying taxes (for example VAT).
It seems somewhat absurd to assert that every patient treated by the NHS has also contributed to the UK tax system, either through income, value added, or indeed through any other taxation mechanism. There will be situations where patients will not be, nor have ever been, UK taxpayers. A Venn diagram with a region showing NHS patients and another showing NHS patients who have "paid tax" will have a large intersection, but not a 100% correlation. Therefore we can conclude that not all patients are taxpayers.

Nevertheless, I am unclear as to the relevance of this particular point wrt telephone numbering. I simply wish to address an incorrect assertion.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:51am

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:22am:
I am unclear as to the relevance of this particular point wrt telephone numbering. I simply wish to address an incorrect assertion.

Can you not provide any helpful comment on the relevant point with reference to taxation, which is about whether there is any difference between the cost of providing NHS services (e.g. the switching system needed to support incoming telephone calls) being met by "taxpayers" or "patients"? I believe that most people would understand the difference, without having to consider the tax-paying status of the patient, and I cannot see how any genuine confusion could arise.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:01am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:51am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:22am:
I am unclear as to the relevance of this particular point wrt telephone numbering. I simply wish to address an incorrect assertion.

Can you not provide any helpful comment on the relevant point with reference to taxation, which is about whether there is any difference between the cost of providing NHS services (e.g. the switching system needed to support incoming telephone calls) being met by "taxpayers" or "patients"? I believe that most people would understand the difference, without having to consider the tax-paying status of the patient, and I cannot see how any genuine confusion could arise.
I'm not sure whether I can provide any helpful comment at all, and I would also suggest that most people would indeed understand the difference between a patient and a taxpayer, however it appears that there is a possible misunderstanding of this point within this thread. The status of "paying tax" should be irrelevant when concerned with delivering patient services at a given time of need. The NHS is funded by 'the taxpayer' and provides a service to 'patients'. They are not necessarily one and the same, not should there be any requirement for such concurrence.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:14am
Perhaps I see things too simply. If a feature of a non-geographic number is thought necessary for the delivery of a NHS service, with a 03 number the taxpayer pays for it, with a 084 number the patient pays for it. I cannot understand what grounds those who cannot see the difference may have for being concerned about use of 0844 numbers in the NHS, or indeed having any concern for the NHS.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:21am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:14am:
Perhaps I see things too simply. If a feature of a non-geographic number is thought necessary for the delivery of a NHS service, with a 03 number the taxpayer pays for it, with a 084 number the patient pays for it. I cannot understand what grounds those who cannot see the difference may have for being concerned about use of 0844 numbers in the NHS, or indeed having any concern for the NHS.
I am not convinced that there is much, if any, disagreement within this forum with your statement above. My own recent points have simply been to address the misconception that a patient is always a taxpayer. This is clearly absurd.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:45am
I would love to agree, indeed I made that very point in the contribution that was selected as highlighting the point of contention, as shown below.


wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:46pm:
Your post #85


I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient.


What we are saying, they are one of the same.
...

When there is so much important stuff going on that is relevant to the campaign (as covered by my recent postings), this forum shows itself to be so out of touch by focussing so much of its energies on nothing more that trying to understand and agree on what it is that we are campaigning for. This is not unimportant, but we have little hope of being a centre for making progress if we cannot advance to the point where we are able to address the actual current issues in our discussions. I am lucky, I am not sure that many other campaigners can afford to use so much of their energy on what must look to most readers as silly internal squabbles.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:13am
Thus far in this thread, the arguments advanced for the abolition of hospital parking charges in England are simply because the other nations that make up the United Kingdom have done it. Essentially, it seems to be a case of "I want what my neighbour has" without consideration of how it might be achieved in practice.

It has not been explained how hospitals in England might ensure that those using their car parks have business on their premises. I would be interested to learn how it is implemented in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


There is the recent news that the Government plans to introduce a system whereby hospitals will be fined if a patient is re-admitted within 30 days. This is allegedly so as to counter the ill effects of targets that result in patients being sent home too soon.

A news report on BBC television explained that only in England are hospitals paid for each treatment they carry out. It stopped short of explaining how it works in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so as to allow viewers make an informed decision.


Should free hospital parking in England come off, then will it be reported how much it costs to administer the new system?

What about the financial hole created by the loss of parking charges? I presume that what the journalists term "profit" is ploughed back into NHS services and not paid as dividends to "shareholders".

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:16am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:45am:
I would love to agree, indeed I made that very point in the contribution that was selected as highlighting the point of contention, as shown below.



wrote on Jun 11th, 2010 at 12:46pm:
Your post #85


I hope we can agree when I say that the cost of handling telephone calls to the NHS must fall (ultimately) on the taxpayer not on the patient.


What we are saying, they are one of the same.
...
The highlighted portion is at the center of the campaign and I fail to see why it should be contentious. I would go further, as reflected by some of my recent contributions, and while others may disagree, and indeed may well have valid opposing arguments, my own position is that, generally, the cost of handling everyday general-purpose telephone calls (banks, transportation, utilities etc) should fall on the recipient and not on the originator unless there is some significant added-value element. As happens here. As used to happen in the UK.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am

Dave wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:13am:
It has not been explained how hospitals in England might ensure that those using their car parks have business on their premises.
And this is one of the major problems/issues.

I have no fundamental objection to parking charges at hospitals in the UK, or indeed any strong views either way. I feel that parking charges and telephone charges are very separate 'beasts' though. I do, however, have (albeit through limited experience with one hospital in Kent) concerns regarding the implementation of a parking charge collection mechanism, which, with this specific hospital, was (and perhaps still is) similar to a parking meter system where one pre-pays for an estimated time. The payment machines seemed to indicate various negative outcomes should one overrun the allocated time, although I do not know what sanction would have been imposed if one was delayed by a significant time. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps a discussion with a parking attendant. Perhaps a wheel clamp. But the threat was there.

I would not expect to turn up at, say, Charing Cross hospital and expect to be able to park, irrespective of whether there would be a fee. Equally, a hospital in a rural area where the likelihood of abuse is minimal (abuse in so far as using the parking lot for purposes other than visiting the hospital) should not find it necessary to levy a charge for parking.

Perhaps a system could be used whereby an entry ticket is 'validated' by the hospital by those having a legitimate visit that allows either free or low-cost parking.

I am curious as to the typical charge for parking at a hospital in the UK these days.

To give some perspective from over here, Mercy hospital, just south of downtown Miami, charges $3 per 24 hours for self-parking and $5 per 24 hours for valet parking.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 4:08am

Dave wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:13am:
It has not been explained how hospitals in England might ensure that those using their car parks have business on their premises. I would be interested to learn how it is implemented in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I understand that the ban in the "nations" is a simple prohibition on NHS bodies raising money from car parking charges. Perhaps our friends from the relevant campaign can enlighten us. I am also very keen to hear comments on how far the changes that will be introduced in England are seen to meet the campaign objectives.


Dave wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:13am:
There is the recent news that the Government plans to introduce a system whereby hospitals will be fined if a patient is re-admitted within 30 days. This is allegedly so as to counter the ill effects of targets that result in patients being sent home too soon.

A news report on BBC television explained that only in England are hospitals paid for each treatment they carry out. It stopped short of explaining how it works in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland so as to allow viewers make an informed decision.

The "internal market" whereby money flows around within the NHS, giving managers lots to do whilst making the system more efficient (!) was introduced in the 80s, long before devolution. Some of its effects have been corrected.

The "fine" is not an actually penalty, but a demand that further necessary treatment carried out after discharge is effectively done under a 30-day warranty, without further payment as if for a fresh admission. We must remember that these payments only come from PCT budgets, so this is probably just an explanation for why PCT budgets will have to be cut, whilst the overall NHS budget is protected.


Dave wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:13am:
What about the financial hole created by the loss of parking charges? I presume that what the journalists term "profit" is ploughed back into NHS services and not paid as dividends to "shareholders".
Those who have been following this thread closely know who will have to fill this "hole". It is "taxpayers", or as some would say, "patients".

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 4:10am

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:16am:
... generally, the cost of handling everyday general-purpose telephone calls (banks, transportation, utilities etc) should fall on the recipient and not on the originator unless there is some significant added-value element ...

I would add "... that the customer (caller) is happy to pay for."

I see this essentially as a matter that must be openly resolved between the recipient and the caller. There is a historic problem with 0845 and 0870 and BT, which we hope Ofcom is at last ready to finally resolve. 0844/3 and 0871/2/3 have picked up some of this problem, which must also be addressed. In common with this is the need for transparency in the cost of calling all PRS numbers now that BT's role in what is now understood to be a plural market can be redefined.

If there is transparency - the existence and the scale of the premium charge is seen and understood - I see no essential need for an external agency to get involved in determining what is and is not fair. (The high cost PRS industry regulates itself to protect its own reputation, which is fair enough).

The Department of Health would have had no problem in banning use of numbers that were declared as being "premium charge" (or something similar). Very few Hospitals and GPs would have had the cheek to use them. I believe that the same would apply to others offering numbers for "general purpose telephone calls" also including those such as HMRC and DWP. After having had the chance to present our own input, we await Ofcom's announcements.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 5:36am

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am:
I would not expect to turn up at, say, Charing Cross hospital and expect to be able to park, irrespective of whether there would be a fee.

As a regular patient at Charing Cross Hospital (now in Hammersmith) I can offer some direct experience. It was built in the 70s with a sizable underground car park. That is no longer big enough to accommodate more than the senior staff for whom it is now reserved (I do not believe that it has actually shrunk in size.)

The roads within the hospital site are used for pay and display parking, at roughly the same rate as in those parts of the surrounding streets where this is possible. Getting a space is not in any way guaranteed and there are no discounts for patients or visitors. The hospital admits that it cannot offer car parking, discouraging use of what little there is by strongly urging use of public transport, which is generously available.

I did once overstay my pay and display time and got caught. I was served with a civil enforcement order for a penalty charge. This was followed up by the agency engaged by the hospital. I enquired about the appeal process and was invited to send an email to the hospital (not the agency) explaining (as was the case) that my outpatient appointment had been unexpectedly delayed and I was unable to come out and move the car. Without any need for specific proof of the appointment, the penalty charge was waived. I expect that others may have had different and less happy experiences.

The one thing I know for certain is that if Charing Cross is prohibited from charging then this will do nothing more than perhaps release some free parking public spaces onto the local market, as I suspect that further areas will be marked off for junior staff parking. The few areas reserved for junior staff cars are presently "crush parked". It would do nothing to help patients or visitors, except those who were lucky enough to grab a vacated space in a lottery with much worse odds than those which apply at present.

I will offer one other personal experience. My father was a patient governor of a Foundation Hospital in Birmingham. They had a large open car park on land adjoining the hospital that had been acquired and was scheduled for building on at some unspecified point in the future. It was however conveniently located near to a local railway station from which a new frequent service into the city centre was introduced. Parking charges had to be set fairly high to discourage commuters and shoppers, so as to ensure space for patients and visitors. They devised a clever scheme which allowed outpatients to park for free, but only if they, or perhaps their driving companion, left the car park immediately after their appointment (an alternative system had been widely abused). Regular, or long term, visitors had the option of purchasing a heavily discounted "season ticket" with a note from the ward that they were visiting. These are just some of many complex features of a scheme that suited that particular situation; the point is that it worked and was seen to be reasonably fair. In fact, when I visited there in the evenings there was usually quite enough space to park outside on the street, which was not subject to restrictions after 6:00. I am sure that every other hospital faces similar tricky problems, to which there are no easy answers. In this case, the hospital would have probably had to let the developer buy the land to operate the car park if it had been prohibited from charging. (If anyone remembers the Labour party manifesto launch on "non-NHS" property, it was the same Trust, but a different site.)

As this thread seems to have been taken over by car parking, perhaps other members have examples to give.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am:
[
I am curious as to the typical charge for parking at a hospital in the UK these days.


£10 plus per day, minimum £5 in my neck of the woods. A friend of mine was paying £60 plus  a week to visit his wife in hospital daily for three weeks. That surely can't be right. Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.

London hospitals are not really a problem as there is a very good transport system there. The problem is outside London. For example my nearest hospital is over 20 miles away and to use public transport is impossible. To get to my local hospital for example would involve one bus, one train and then another bus which would take probably about two hours if all the connections worked. They used to run a 'free' mini bus but that has been stopped by the  local NHS or P.C.T. I can't remember who ran it. I think a taxi would cost about £40 each way.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 12:14pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am:
Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.

From the way the situation is described, I can see every good reason not to charge patients or visitors for parking at this hospital.

The provision of a mini-bus to the hospital for access from a nearly point which is more accessible by public transport would seem to be essential, especially if perhaps parking charges had to be generally applied to discourage parking by those not using the hospital. This would also be a issue for the local transport authority. I would be very interested to know why the hospital trust decided to charge in this case, and why the mini-bus was stopped. I assume that there is local campaign on the topic. From what I know, I would be delighted to offer my support.

I do however see this as a local issue (perhaps one of many), rather than the basis for a change in general NHS policy on car parking.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 12th, 2010 at 12:56pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 12:14pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am:
Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.

From the way the situation is described, I can see every good reason not to charge patients or visitors for parking at this hospital.

The provision of a mini-bus to the hospital for access from a nearly point which is more accessible by public transport would seem to be essential, especially if perhaps parking charges had to be generally applied to discourage parking by those not using the hospital. This would also be a issue for the local transport authority. I would be very interested to know why the hospital trust decided to charge in this case, and why the mini-bus was stopped. I assume that there is local campaign on the topic. From what I know, I would be delighted to offer my support.

I do however see this as a local issue (perhaps one of many), rather than the basis for a change in general NHS policy on car parking.



Ok, I appreciate I might be guilty of off going off topic on this thread but continuing with the car parking issue, I think the problems really originated when local hospitals were closed by previous governments and this meant patients and visitors had to travel further. I think, rather than a local issue to me, I reckon those folk who do not live in cities would have the same problem as us in this neck of the woods.

SCV.... in answer to your request about why our local shuttle bus ceased operating I refer you to this link, and if you trawl through it all you will probably understand it better than most.

http://www.crawley.gov.uk/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&ssDocName=INT134228&ssTargetNodeId=409

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:51pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am:
[
I am curious as to the typical charge for parking at a hospital in the UK these days.


£10 plus per day, minimum £5 in my neck of the woods. A friend of mine was paying £60 plus  a week to visit his wife in hospital daily for three weeks. That surely can't be right. Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.
Thanks. Indeed it can't be right, and reflects what I said earlier - the implementation of parking schemes appears to be poor. I can't see why there isn't a concessionary arrangement that provides discounted fees for those patients and their visitors who need repeated visits for chronic conditions or multiple extended visits. Perhaps these do exist in some circumstances - I simply do not know. But yes, the headline £60 per week is not, I suggest, acceptable to many people.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:03pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 5:36am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am:
I would not expect to turn up at, say, Charing Cross hospital and expect to be able to park, irrespective of whether there would be a fee.

As a regular patient at Charing Cross Hospital (now in Hammersmith) I can offer some direct experience. It was built in the 70s with a sizable underground car park. That is no longer big enough to accommodate more than the senior staff for whom it is now reserved (I do not believe that it has actually shrunk in size.)

The roads within the hospital site are used for pay and display parking, at roughly the same rate as in those parts of the surrounding streets where this is possible. Getting a space is not in any way guaranteed and there are no discounts for patients or visitors. The hospital admits that it cannot offer car parking, discouraging use of what little there is by strongly urging use of public transport, which is generously available.
Interesting. I worked at Charing Cross hospital in the early 80s and had no idea that it had an underground parking facility. I vaguely recall a street-level parking lot around the main entrance, but, as far as I can remember, this also was reserved for senior personnel and did not provide visitor or patient parking.

I would generally park close to Barons Court station or on one of the side streets off Fulham Palace Road. Not an easy task in the 80s, and I suspect even more difficult nowadays as it is probably all permit controlled. I have no idea what the metered rates for SW6/W6 are today, but I'm guessing they are high.

Completely off topic, but my lingering memory of CX hospital was the awful smell of diesel fumes from a generator below wafting into the upper floors. This diesel smell was unlike any other diesel odor that I have experienced.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:47pm

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 1:51pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:55am:
[
I am curious as to the typical charge for parking at a hospital in the UK these days.


£10 plus per day, minimum £5 in my neck of the woods. A friend of mine was paying £60 plus  a week to visit his wife in hospital daily for three weeks. That surely can't be right. Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.
Thanks. Indeed it can't be right, and reflects what I said earlier - the implementation of parking schemes appears to be poor. I can't see why there isn't a concessionary arrangement that provides discounted fees for those patients and their visitors who need repeated visits for chronic conditions or multiple extended visits. Perhaps these do exist in some circumstances - I simply do not know. But yes, the headline £60 per week is not, I suggest, acceptable to many people.



idb....what happens in Miami and other places in America?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:15pm

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:03pm:
... Charing Cross hospital in the early 80s

The area around the main entrance now has a good number of free spaces for disabled badge holders, a few pay and display spaces and many spaces used by ambulances and other "patient transport" vehicles. This reminds us that free transport is available for those unable to travel by themselves. The underground car park entrance is at the end of the south arm of the main block. Parking in nearby streets, with a limit of either 2 or 4hrs and with many areas reserved for residents only, costs around £2 per hour. The hospital rate is similar.

I am pleased to say that the diesel problem has either been solved, or I have been lucky in not suffering it.

Back on the topic, Imperial College Healthcare (the trust covering CX) has only geo telephone numbers. The main number uses a most effective voice recognition system. The telecoms manager has been instrumental in arranging use of the NHS VOIP network by local GPs, on geo numbers, providing all of the features offered by a well known commercial system much more cheaply.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 12th, 2010 at 4:00pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 2:47pm:
idb....what happens in Miami and other places in America?
To provide a little context regarding geography and demographics of this area. The statistical area known as Miami–Fort Lauderdale–Pompano Beach Metropolitan Area is around 6000 sq m in size and has a population of around 5.5m. It includes a number of incorporated places and many unincorporated areas. It includes the major cities of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Most of the population is located within a strip of about 100 mile by 20 mile area along the ocean. For comparison, the administrative area of Greater London is around 600 sq m with a population of 7.5m.

The four local (to me) hospitals all provide unrestricted free parking, either in lots, parking garages or both. They are generally under surveillance, but no entry tickets or similar mechanisms are in place. There would generally be no reason to park at any of these facilities other than to visit the hospital. Another large hospital I have visited, between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, has a vast parking garage that is free. In addition to hospitals, there are many other medical facilities - surgery centers, diagnostic facilities and labs, to name just three. I have yet to visit one that does not have more than adequate free parking facilities.

A quick look at the Miami Mercy hospital web site shows parking charges are $3 per 24h, valet parking of $5 per 24h.

As to the rest of the country, I really have no idea. I suspect that parking in Manhattan is little different to the situation in central London. The only time I've had to park my car in Manhattan, which was not at a hospital, the charge was around $20 to $30 for a couple of hours.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 12th, 2010 at 11:45pm
Interesting, thanks idb

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by loddon on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:16am:
..... my own position is that, generally, the cost of handling everyday general-purpose telephone calls (banks, transportation, utilities etc) should fall on the recipient and not on the originator unless there is some significant added-value element.


Hear Hear idb.   This is absolutely my position and what I submitted to Ofcom for their recent consultation "Review of Non-Geographic Calls Services".   See my posting #5 here http://www.saynoto0870.com/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1272746772/0

It seems to me that Ofcom is now in a completely compromised position having banned revenue sharing on 0870 numbers but allowing it to continue uncontrolled on 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers.   Ofcom is utterly illogical and hypocritical in it's regulation of these revenue sharing numbers.   Currently it is encouraging and allowing the disgraceful exploitation of the 0870 number whereby phone companies are overcharging, such as Virgin Mobile which has just announced that it will charge 40p per minute for all calls at all times for calls to 0870.   How can Ofcom allow this disgusting rip-off??? >:(

In addition Ofcom is allowing Service providers to exploit the public and profiteer shamelessly.   In effect Ofcom is supervising,  participating in and encouraging an industry wide scam to deceive and rip-off the general public.   In doing so it is failing and abrogating its responsibility to regulate the industry in order to protect the public from rip-offs. >:(

If the current Ofcom review of NGN Services fails to stop revenue sharing on 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers and to stop overcharging and exploitation then Ofcom will be clearly seen to be a COMPLETE FAILURE!! >:(   Ofcom MUST regulate properly and rule that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers must be charged at same rate as 03 numbers.    If companies and organisations require the benefits, as they see them, of "network services" provided by the use of these numbers then the companies must pay for them and not the caller!

We must watch carefully to see what Ofom say in their report on the current Review and what outline proposals they put forward in the next stage which we understand to be commencing in September 2010.


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 13th, 2010 at 3:41pm
(I do not make a point of drawing attention to spelling mistakes in other postings (indeed I miss some of my own). I can however recommend the spell checker which is one of the useful features on the Google Toolbar - many other similar tools are available.)


loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:
How can Ofcom allow this dusgusting rip-off??? >:(

Ofcom has clearly failed to take the action necessary to address the issues referred to. We agree on that.

I would not go so far as to say that the provisions it has put in place on pricing for calls to 0870 numbers amount to "encouragement of", "participation in" and "supervision of" a scam. I understand that no complaints about breaches of the relevant regulations have been received. I imagine that any member who had identified such a case would have drawn our attention to it in this forum. Furthermore, Ofcom apparently believes that it now holds stronger powers to address issues such as this, than it did when these very weak provisions were introduced. I propose that these be used in this case and others.

Because the present situation makes use of a 0870 number pointless (with both users and callers paying more), one must assume that over time they will disappear. Announcing that they will be changed to be the same as 03 would give them a new lease of life, including through the period before such a revised regulation came into effect.


I take serious issue with those (notably idb) who suggest that it should be for Ofcom or Phonepay Plus to determine what type of call may be subject to a relatively modest surcharge to the benefit of the recipient. Expecting Ofcom to assess every case to see if there is an "added value element" and if the charge incurred by callers is proportionate and proper, might be easy for NHS providers (for whom no charge can be proper) and a few other cases, but would be a nightmare in many others. I do not believe that Ofcom would be able to reject all such applications, as some may suggest it would. I am not even sure where it could find the statutory basis for the exercise of any such regulation.

Ofcom has a duty to all consumers of telephone service, and that includes users of 084/087 numbers. If they can make a case for continuation of this benefit, then I cannot see how Ofcom can deny it, unless it can be shown to be "unfair" in terms that would survive legal challenge. The fundamental issue at present is the lack of transparency of the surcharge incurred by callers. If Ofcom were able to address that, as I propose that it could, then the situation should be able to right itself.

I do not believe that 0871/2/3 should have been classed as PRS under the present regulatory regime. After all the work that was done to achieve this, however, I cannot see how Ofcom could be expected to change its mind, reverse the situation and take a step in a different direction. I regret the fact that some would therefore see whatever measures it does take as being insignificant in the context of what will be determined to be a "COMPLETE FAILURE".


In the present political climate, we can have little hope for additional sweeping regulatory burdens being imposed on any industry. I believe that we should focus on openness and transparency, as I see this as an achievable objective that would resolve many of our concerns. In particular, I believe that it would nail the issue of NHS providers (GPs, Hospitals and others) using revenue sharing 084 numbers, without having to draw Ofcom into a position of partiality between one group of telephone service users and another.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 13th, 2010 at 4:33pm

loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:16am:
..... my own position is that, generally, the cost of handling everyday general-purpose telephone calls (banks, transportation, utilities etc) should fall on the recipient and not on the originator unless there is some significant added-value element.


Hear Hear idb.   This is absolutely my position and what I submitted to Ofcom for their recent consultation "Review of Non-Geographic Calls Services".   See my posting #5 here http://www.saynoto0870.com/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1272746772/0

I totally agree with this quote and the quote within it. It is the way in which the telephone market has played out that has allowed these organisations to move to premium numbers without consumers of their services being aware of this fact. I can't see how it can be the telecommunications regulator's job to police what type of services use what type of numbers.



loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:
It seems to me that Ofcom is now in a completely compromised position having banned revenue sharing on 0870 numbers but allowing it to continue uncontrolled on 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers.   Ofcom is utterly illogical and hypocritical in it's regulation of these revenue sharing numbers.   Currently it is encouraging and allowing the disgraceful exploitation of the 0870 number whereby phone companies are overcharging, such as Virgin Mobile which has just announced that it will charge 40p per minute for all calls at all times for calls to 0870.   How can Ofcom allow this dusgusting rip-off??? >:(

In addition Ofcom is allowing Service providers to exploit the public and profiteer shamelessly.   In effect Ofcom is supervising,  participating in and encouraging an industry wide scam to deceive and rip-off the general public.   In doing so it is failing and abrogating its responsibility to regulate the industry in order to protect the public from rip-offs. >:(

Ofcom as the regulator works within the rules set out and powers given to it. If there is something which it can do that is within its powers then perhaps we need to identify that and not abhore it for something outside its control.

The fact that the likes of Virgin Mobile has increased the cost of calling 0870 numbers when last August it could have reduced them without loosing out seems to me to be a symptom of the market in that there is no natural competitive forces to achieve this. Likewise, most of the fixed line providers that chose not to pass on savings to callers.



loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:
If the current Ofcom review of NGN Services fails to stop revenue sharing on 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers and to stop overcharging and exploitation then Ofcom will be clearly seen to be a COMPLETE FAILURE!! >:(   Ofcom MUST regulate properly and rule that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers must be charged at same rate as 03 numbers.    If companies and organisations require the benefits, as they see them, of "network services" provided by the use of these numbers then the companies must pay for them and not the caller!

As I said previously, there are consumers at both ends of the chain (i.e. callers and receivers are both consumers) and the regulator must act in the interests of both.

On the basis of where we are now, I cannot see how the regulator can be deemed a "complete failure" if it doesn't rule that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers be charged inline with 03 numbers. It must consider the interests of the consumers of those telephone numbers (banks, insurance companies etc) who will loose subsidy of their services or face the cost of migrating to other numbers.

What's more, these numbers have been in existance for over 10 years now and were born by Ofcom's predecessor, Oftel.


The current regulation is known as the NTS Condition and I explained how this came about earlier this month, although I didn't mention it by name. Basically, the said regulation was introduced in 2003 as BT had been found to be a dominent originating provider.

Essentially, it gave the advantage to receiving telcos (and their customers) at the expense of callers (those not with BT). Perhaps the regulator at the time had no other option but to do this. However, I say that it was then (or prior to it) that it started to go wrong and why we are where we are.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by loddon on Jun 13th, 2010 at 10:04pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 3:41pm:
I would not go so far as to say that the provisions it has put in place on pricing for calls to 0870 numbers amount to "encouragement of", "participation in" and "supervision of" a scam. I understand that no complaints about breaches of the relevant regulations have been received. I imagine that any member who had identified such a case would have drawn our attention to it in this forum.

I thought they had requested responses to a consultation.  That they have not received specific complaints does not mean that there is no problem.   Surely it is their job as regulator to monitor what is going on.  If they took any notice at all of petitions on the Prime Minister's website, articles and comments in the press and media, comments in Parliament about 08 numbers being a "rip-off", the very existence of this website as well as much of the discussion in this Forum they would realise that there is a big problem with 08 Rip-off numbers and action needs to be taken.



Quote:
Because the present situation makes use of a 0870 number pointless (with both users and callers paying more), one must assume that over time they will disappear. Announcing that they will be changed to be the same as 03 would give them a new lease of life, including through the period before such a revised regulation came into effect.

I agree that 0870 numbers are now pointless except for those phone companies that choose to profiteer shamelessly while they still exist -- so Ofcom should do something about a scam on the public.



Quote:
I take serious issue with those (notably idb) who suggest that it should be for Ofcom or Phonepay Plus to determine what type of call may be subject to a relatively modest surcharge to the benefit of the recipient. Expecting Ofcom to assess every case to see if there is an "added value element" and if the charge incurred by callers is proportionate and proper, might be easy for NHS providers (for whom no charge can be proper) and a few other cases, but would be a nightmare in many others. I do not believe that Ofcom would be able to reject all such applications, as some may suggest it would. I am not even sure where it could find the statutory basis for the exercise of any such regulation..

I think that idb may be referring to dial-up internet access as possibly a valid "added value service" and I accept that maybe some provision should be made for such, but I don't pretend to know what.   Some sort of pre-call price announcement could be one of the measures required.  Surely Ofcom would not have to "assess every case"?   Instead it could just define those added value services which are justified and rule out all others.    My point is that most of these numbers are used in a way which does not add value for the caller.   All the benefit accrues to the user company and therefore it is they who should pay for it as they do with 03 numbers.



Quote:
Ofcom has a duty to all consumers of telephone service, and that includes users of 084/087 numbers. If they can make a case for continuation of this benefit, then I cannot see how Ofcom can deny it, unless it can be shown to be "unfair" in terms that would survive legal challenge. The fundamental issue at present is the lack of transparency of the surcharge incurred by callers. If Ofcom were able to address that, as I propose that it could, then the situation should be able to right itself.

Provision of transparency would not resolve the fundamental issues with these rip-off numbers, the opportunity for scams, the incentivisation towards inefficiency and the fact that the callers are being forced to pay for a service which they are not receiving.   The whole concept is fundamentally flawed and deceitful.   Most ordinary people don't know why these numbers are so expensive, do not know that they are paying money over to the receiving company and are given no choice in the matter.   Why do you think  this website is so popular?



Quote:
I do not believe that 0871/2/3 should have been classed as PRS under the present regulatory regime. After all the work that was done to achieve this, however, I cannot see how Ofcom could be expected to change its mind, reverse the situation and take a step in a different direction. I regret the fact that some would therefore see whatever measures it does take as being insignificant in the context of what will be determined to be a "COMPLETE FAILURE".

Ofcom will be a "COMPLETE FAILURE" if it fails to take action to prevent the phone service industry from continuing to rip-off the public.   They are having a review so now is their opportunity to put right a long standing wrong and a continuing scam of the British public.



Quote:
In the present political climate, we can have little hope for additional sweeping regulatory burdens being imposed on any industry. I believe that we should focus on openness and transparency, as I see this as an achievable objective that would resolve many of our concerns. In particular, I believe that it would nail the issue of NHS providers (GPs, Hospitals ) using revenue sharing 084 numbers, without having to draw Ofcom into a position of partiality between one group of telephone service users and another.

I am all for openness and transparency and I am not suggesting increased regulatory burdens.  I just want to see Ofcom put right a serious wrong.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:18pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 3:41pm:
I take serious issue with those (notably idb) who suggest that it should be for Ofcom or Phonepay Plus to determine what type of call may be subject to a relatively modest surcharge to the benefit of the recipient. Expecting Ofcom to assess every case to see if there is an "added value element" and if the charge incurred by callers is proportionate and proper, might be easy for NHS providers (for whom no charge can be proper) and a few other cases, but would be a nightmare in many others. I do not believe that Ofcom would be able to reject all such applications, as some may suggest it would. I am not even sure where it could find the statutory basis for the exercise of any such regulation.
I'm not sure that I have advocated, at least directly, that either Ofcom or PPP should be the arbiter of a particular class of call and make a determination as to whether there is 'added value'; perhaps I poorly expressed earlier views, or perhaps they were misinterpreted. I come back to my stated position - the additional costs for general purpose calls requiring 'network services' (using a loose term) should be met by the recipient and not by the caller. I qualified my earlier statement using the value added argument. At the moment, and off the top of my head, I cannot offer any suggestion where there would be added value on a general purpose call (banks, utilities, government, transportation), however such possibilities may exist. There are other services, however, that do offer added value, such as dial up internet, fax services, conferencing and perhaps other 'premium rate' services where a low premium could be justified. Such calls may well be outside the scope of wwhat could be referred to as general purpose calls. I accept that for Ofcom, PPP or indeed any regulatory body to define what is 'added value' would be a difficult task, although PPP does, to some degree, already define classes such as chat, adult services and DQ services. One possible conclusion from my position on general purpose calls is that 084 and 087 numbers are simply prohibited. It was pointed out to Ofcom, as if it needed to be explained, that the removal of revenue share / the NTS Condition would simply mean that those using 0870 would shift to 0844 and 0871. Indeed, prior to Ofcom's announcement of the ending of revenue share, many users had already anticipated the outcome and started to use 0844.

We have to go back to basics. It is my belief that the public is fed up with having to pay a premium to make everyday calls, especially when that premium may be close to 30 or so pence per minute. Whilst transparency may also be an issue, I do not think it is the fundamental issue that you state in a later contribution.

There is now an opportunity for the regulator to get this right, at least in the arena of public opinion. If 0800 calls were treated as free (or inclusive from other networks), plus further progress with 03 numbering, then the UK would be left with a system not too dissimilar to the WATS toll-free network over here which functions very well. Revenue sharing could continue for value added services, possibly using the PRS numbering range, regulated by a body that has customer interest as a priority. The current PRS regulator is simply an organ of the industry, and it needs to be axed as it is utterly pointless in terms of providing consumer protection.

Many customers have call bundles, whether through landline or cellphone. Those bundles should permit typical everyday calls. This is, I suggest, a simple position that most would support. Of course, there would be many underlying issues to address, but it is about time the responsibility for network service cost is shifted away from the customer placing the call.

Perhaps I am oversimplifying things, but the thought of paying £4, or $6, for a ten-minute call to a hospital or to a bank is simply preposterous, and cannot be justified.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 13th, 2010 at 11:37pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 3:41pm:

loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:
How can Ofcom allow this dusgusting rip-off??? >:(

Ofcom has clearly failed to take the action necessary to address the issues referred to. We agree on that.

I would not go so far as to say that the provisions it has put in place on pricing for calls to 0870 numbers amount to "encouragement of", "participation in" and "supervision of" a scam. I understand that no complaints about breaches of the relevant regulations have been received. I imagine that any member who had identified such a case would have drawn our attention to it in this forum. Furthermore, Ofcom apparently believes that it now holds stronger powers to address issues such as this, than it did when these very weak provisions were introduced. I propose that these be used in this case and others.
loddon's post points out what was predicted by many here and elsewhere, and anticipated by the end users of NTS, namely that the withdrawal of the NTS condition for 0870 would simply shift the problem elsewhere. It is not the number that is the problem, more the concept.

A typical customer is unlikely to complain to Ofcom about a regulation breach, however a typical customer may make many other representations as to the general disgust with the prevailing system through other means already suggested by loddon's contribution.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by loddon on Jun 14th, 2010 at 6:31am

Dave wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 4:33pm:

loddon wrote on Jun 13th, 2010 at 8:23am:

idb wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 3:16am:
..... my own position is that, generally, the cost of handling everyday general-purpose telephone calls (banks, transportation, utilities etc) should fall on the recipient and not on the originator unless there is some significant added-value element.


Hear Hear idb.   This is absolutely my position and what I submitted to Ofcom for their recent consultation "Review of Non-Geographic Calls Services".   See my posting #5 here http://www.saynoto0870.com/cgi-bin/forum/YaBB.cgi?num=1272746772/0

I totally agree with this quote and the quote within it.

The fact that the likes of Virgin Mobile has increased the cost of calling 0870 numbers when last August it could have reduced them without loosing out seems to me to be a symptom of the market in that there is no natural competitive forces to achieve this. Likewise, most of the fixed line providers that chose not to pass on savings to callers.

As I said previously, there are consumers at both ends of the chain (i.e. callers and receivers are both consumers) and the regulator must act in the interests of both.

On the basis of where we are now, I cannot see how the regulator can be deemed a "complete failure" if it doesn't rule that 0843/4/5 and 0871/2/3 numbers be charged inline with 03 numbers. It must consider the interests of the consumers of those telephone numbers (banks, insurance companies etc) who will loose subsidy of their services or face the cost of migrating to other numbers.

What's more, these numbers have been in existance for over 10 years now and were born by Ofcom's predecessor, Oftel.

The current regulation is known as the NTS Condition and I explained how this came about earlier this month, although I didn't mention it by name. Basically, the said regulation was introduced in 2003 as BT had been found to be a dominent originating provider.

Essentially, it gave the advantage to receiving telcos (and their customers) at the expense of callers (those not with BT). Perhaps the regulator at the time had no other option but to do this. However, I say that it was then (or prior to it) that it started to go wrong and why we are where we are.

Thanks Dave for your explanations and your support, at least in part, of my position that it is the receivers of the benefits of NTS Services who should pay for them and not the callers.

Your point about Virgin Mobile supports my case for the need for Ofcom action.   I am a customer of Virgin Mobile and I would not know about this price increase if it were not for the good people of this website bringing it to our attention.   Virgin haven't notified me! >:(   Clearly there is a lack of competition to hold down prices so Ofcom need to take action.

I agree that the regulator must act in the interests of both callers and receivers.    I feel that under the present regime callers are not being protected from scams.

"Banks, insurance companies etc" are part of the problem and are being allowed to rip-off callers by taking money from them for which there is no legitimate basis as far as I can see.    Where in any phone service contracts does it say that a caller must pay part of the cost of a call over to the call receiver?     What choice does the caller have to avoid such a charge or to negotiate the cost in order to get a better service for himself?    08 numbers are a rip-off in concept and should be brought into the same charging mechanism and rules as 03 numbers.

Having been in existence for 10 years a rectification of the current scandal is long overdue.   The length of time over which a rip-off has been allowed and encouraged is no justification for allowing it to continue.

Your links to the regulations are interesting but I find it difficult to understand what is written.   However, I found no reference to revenue sharing and how it is regulated.   It is not the job of ordinary phone service users such as me to read and understand all the regs and machinations of the internal workings of the industry.   That is why we have Ofcom who are supposed to be acting to protect us!! :)  

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:17pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 12:56pm:

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 12:14pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 12th, 2010 at 8:45am:
Perhaps SCV thinks that  is acceptable but I don't.

From the way the situation is described, I can see every good reason not to charge patients or visitors for parking at this hospital.

The provision of a mini-bus to the hospital for access from a nearly point which is more accessible by public transport would seem to be essential, especially if perhaps parking charges had to be generally applied to discourage parking by those not using the hospital. This would also be a issue for the local transport authority. I would be very interested to know why the hospital trust decided to charge in this case, and why the mini-bus was stopped. I assume that there is local campaign on the topic. From what I know, I would be delighted to offer my support.

I do however see this as a local issue (perhaps one of many), rather than the basis for a change in general NHS policy on car parking.



Ok, I appreciate I might be guilty of off going off topic on this thread but continuing with the car parking issue, I think the problems really originated when local hospitals were closed by previous governments and this meant patients and visitors had to travel further. I think, rather than a local issue to me, I reckon those folk who do not live in cities would have the same problem as us in this neck of the woods.

SCV.... in answer to your request about why our local shuttle bus ceased operating I refer you to this link, and if you trawl through it all you will probably understand it better than most.

http://www.crawley.gov.uk/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&ssDocName=INT134228&ssTargetNodeId=409



A small first step. at least we are getting somwhere at last, althought SCV will probably be disgusted.........


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1290954/Trafford-General-Hospital-England-scrap-car-parking-charges.html


Let us hope other hospitals will take up this splendid example

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:34pm

sherbert wrote on Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:17pm:
A small first step. at least we are getting somwhere at last, althought SCV will probably be disgusted.........


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1290954/Trafford-General-Hospital-England-scrap-car-parking-charges.html


Let us hope other hospitals will take up this splendid example

This is an excellent example; let us hope that it works. Perhaps this hospital can help others make necessary changes.

In particular, I quote this paragraph from the article:

Quote:
There will be barrier-controlled entry to the public car parks - but patients and visitors will be given an exit pass entitling them to leave the car parks without paying.

Stalwart campaigners on this matter such as sherbert have stayed silent on how they would realise free (to patients and visitors) hospital car parking.

Indeed, perhaps sherbert would like to propose a more appropriate description of "free" hospital parking, as he has long objected to the use of the word "free" with respect to the NHS being "free at the point of need". It is argued that taxpayers pay for the NHS, thus it is not free.

Likewise, "free" carparking is now a reality at this hospital because there is a barrier system in place and cards are issued for this system. Unless the system cost the hospital nothing and those who administer it are giving their time for nothing, then it cannot be said that the carparking is "free". [This last sentence is made directly in response to those who disagree with the use of the word "free" in respect of the NHS.]

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:04pm

Dave wrote on Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:34pm:
[
Indeed, perhaps sherbert would like to propose a more appropriate description of "free" hospital parking, as he has long objected to the use of the word "free" with respect to the NHS being "free at the point of need". It is argued that taxpayers pay for the NHS, thus it is not free.

Likewise, "free" carparking is now a reality at this hospital because there is a barrier system in place and cards are issued for this system. Unless the system cost the hospital nothing and those who administer it are giving their time for nothing, then it cannot be said that the carparking is "free". [This last sentence is made directly in response to those who disagree with the use of the word "free" in respect of the NHS.]




When we are talking about 'free' 0845, 0870 and other such calls with BT, I admit I am one of the first, who always correct this as incorrect and it should be called 'inclusive' as we are paying for the line rental, so it is not 'free'.

Can you Dave or anyone else, can seriously suggest that since hospital car parking charges came in, (not sure when it was but I can well remember when we did not have to pay) that NHS standards have risen? My answer would be a resounding 'no'. So all that money that has been received must have gone on paying the ridiculous sums of money that is being paid to the Chief Execetives, and their staff and also to NHS quangos. The new government wants these grossly over inflated salaries reduced and to abolish the many quangos, therefore the money that is going to be saved in these areas will be saved and will not have to be funded by (if they were) hospital car parking charges.

As we are paying the NHS through NI and other taxes, then the same word ('inclusive') should apply. So we are still paying for the car parks through our contributions. and the system of operating the barrier system, which will probably be automatic will cost peanuts compared to the sums that are going to be saved, that I have outlined above.

(Money will also be saved on the salaries of the guys who go round looking for out of time tickets and posting penalty notices on the wind screens.)

So, what I am saying is, the level of care in the hospitals will not be reduced by this fall in income, any more that the level of care rose when it was introduced.

I shall still campaign to have these 'taxes on the sick' abolished



Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:41pm

sherbert wrote on Jul 1st, 2010 at 1:17pm:
A small first step. at least we are getting somwhere at last, althought SCV will probably be disgusted.........

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1290954/Trafford-General-Hospital-England-scrap-car-parking-charges.html

Let us hope other hospitals will take up this splendid example

No disgust at all.

A familiar contributor added a comment to the Daily Mail article at 00:38 this morning.

If the hospital has got the spaces it needs for patients and visitors and can make the scheme work well without too much red tape and without significant abuse, then I am delighted and hope that the wisdom necessary to achieve this can be passed on to others.

I am astonished at the view of the Taxpayers' Alliance, which apparently joins the Daily Mail in proposing that taxpayers should pay for all NHS patients and visitors to have free parking at all NHS hospitals. Given the enormous cost that this would involve for hospitals that simply do not currently have the land, this seems a rather odd position for both to take.

(In respoinse to further comments)

On the semantics, "free parking" means parking without paying a fee. The problem arises because land is not free (in a broader sense) and it is not without cost to operate a system that only permits certain people to use a car park.

In due course it might be interesting to discover the going rate for the car park exit tokens if they are handed out "free" to visitors and patients without them having to prove that they have genuine business at the hospital and that they parked in the car park! I hope that I am wrong, but if it is as simple as is suggested, then these tokens may well have a market price.


I believe it to be generally accepted that NHS treatment has improved considerably over recent years, although not always in direct proportion to the additional amounts of money being put into it. That is the basic law of diminishing returns, which applies anywhere, although any enterprise of its size is bound to be horribly inefficient.


Where proper provision, without charge, is made to provide transport or parking for those unable to use public transport, I will acknowledge a campaign against a tax on car users. Only if those holding, or entitled to, blue badges are required to pay parking fees will I acknowledge hospital car park charges as a tax on the sick. (The other example I would accept as a tax on the sick is where the charges are in excess of the normal rate for parking in the area, although it is hard to think why anyone would pay such a charge).

In conclusion, I celebrate what Trafford has been able to achieve - I am happy to assume that all has been thought through properly. I urge all others to follow this good example, if they can.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 1st, 2010 at 4:08pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jul 1st, 2010 at 2:41pm:
I believe it to be generally accepted that NHS treatment has improved considerably over recent years, although not always in direct proportion to the additional amounts of money being put into it. That is the basic law of diminishing returns, which applies anywhere, although any enterprise of its size is bound to be horribly inefficient.



Could well be up in London SCV but in my neck of the woods it is in a terrible state. Nearest hospitals are 20 miles away (I have mentioned this elsewehre on this thread) and ambulances are queing up outside the hospitals to off load their human cargo. Interestingly the time that the patient is kept waiting outside the hospital does not count towards the target time in sorting out the patient. Once in the hospital patients are left on trollies anywhere where there is a space and recently there was a old lady left on a comode for the best part of an hour and she was not even in a ward. If it was not for her relatives sorting her out, she would probably still be there. She had xrays and they found nothing wrong and two weeks later another xray was performed after she had been discharged and indeed she had broken her femur. This is just one example, (I wont bore you with all the others) and if indeed the NHS has improved as you suggest, I shudder to think what it was like before.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 21st, 2010 at 9:14pm
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7900828/Hospitals-can-continue-to-charge-for-parking-Department-of-Health.html    >:(



Hospitals can continue to charge for parking: Department of Health
Hospital car parking charges are to remain under the new Coalition government – reversing Labour's pledge to scrap them.



By Rebecca Smith, Medical Editor


The previous government said car parking charges for in-patients and their friends and relatives would be abolished within three years.

Hospitals make a total of more than £100 million from charging for parking on their sites, money which the trust keeps.



The charges have been condemned by many as a 'tax on the sick' and cancer patients in particular are hit hard because of the repeated trips to hospital often necessary for chemotherapy.

However the NHS must save between £15 billion and £20 billion over the next four years and some experts had questioned whether this was the right time to abolish the charges.

Parking charges have been abolished in Scotland and are due to be phased out in Wales from next year.

Now under the new Coalition government hospitals will continue to be able to charge as ministers are reluctant to intervene in the 'day-to-day' running of the NHS.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We can't be in favour of decentralisation, and greater autonomy for NHS and then tell them how to run their car parking.

"But it's clear that where parking charges are making it difficult for staff to do their jobs properly, where they are damaging patients access to services, or where they are stopping friends and relatives from visiting — they are too high, and hospital trusts have a responsibility to look at those factors.

"We will publish a response to the NHS Car Parking Consultation in September."

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 22nd, 2010 at 1:53pm
One notes the formal statement of DH policy quoted above


sherbert wrote on Jul 21st, 2010 at 9:14pm:
"A spokesman for the Department of Health said: 'We can't be in favour of decentralisation, and greater autonomy for NHS and then tell them how to ...'"


The Directions on telephone numbers issued last December remain in force and there is no indication of them being rescinded. There is however little hope that the DH will now take a stronger line on the proper determination that 084 numbers are generally more expensive, than that taken under the previous government, which is generally thought to have been too much in favour of Directions from the centre.

It must be likely that the forthcoming response to the Consultation on proposals to impose Directions on NHS Car Parking charges in England will announce the issuing of Guidance, rather than Directions.

My personal view is that detailed car parking, and other physical access, arrangements are best resolved locally in line with the clearly understood principles of the NHS, so that all relevant circumstances, including the associated costs incurred by patients and visitors, (which do differ widely) can be properly taken into account. The cost of calling particular types of telephone number are however set nationally by the telephone companies and there is no local variation that requires consideration. Furthermore, the effort necessary to clearly understand that 084 numbers are generally more expensive is sadly considerable, given the tendency to use BT charges as if they were typical and the way in which providers of 084 numbers are given to misrepresentation. The DH should be serving local NHS bodies by providing them with clear advice that their duty under the NHS Constitution cannot be fulfilled if they continue to use 084 numbers.

If "greater autonomy" extends to permitting the essential principles of a National Health Service to be disregarded, then "NHS" becomes nothing more than a meaningless name.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Aug 18th, 2010 at 9:34pm
http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/8334386.Hospital_restores_01268_code_to_its_number/


Quote:
Hospital restores 01268 code to its number

8:50am Tuesday 17th August 2010

BASILDON Hospital has re-instated the 01268 dialling code to its telephone number following pleas from the public.

People ringing the hospital can now dial 01268 524900 to reach the switchboard number, instead of 0845 1553111, which was brought in last year.

The move follows concerns from some people who confused the normal rate 0845 number with a premium 0870 telephone number, which is in fact, much more expensive.

A hospital spokesman said: “We have listened to the concerns voiced by our patients and the public since the introduction of the 0845 number.

“We introduced that number so our switchboard can operate from a different venue, namely Orsett Hospital, in the event of a disaster, such as a fire.

“The 0845 number is not a premium rate one and such numbers are included in some phone providers ‘free’ call packages, for example BT.”

Jenny Galpin, director of estates and facilities, at the hospital, added: “Although those patients who regularly have to call the hospital were given direct dial numbers for wards starting with 01268, we realised most of the public would prefer it if we brought our main 01268 switchboard number back.”

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by loddon on Aug 20th, 2010 at 9:01am

Dave wrote on Aug 18th, 2010 at 9:34pm:
http://www.echo-news.co.uk/news/8334386.Hospital_restores_01268_code_to_its_number/


Quote:
Hospital restores 01268 code to its number



BASILDON Hospital has re-instated the 01268 dialling code to its telephone number following pleas from the public.

The move follows concerns from some people who confused the normal rate 0845 number with a premium 0870 telephone number, which is in fact, much more expensive.

A hospital spokesman said: “We have listened to the concerns voiced by our patients and the public since the introduction of the 0845 number.

“We introduced that number so our switchboard can operate from a different venue, namely Orsett Hospital, in the event of a disaster, such as a fire."



This is good news but it raises a few important questions and goes to illustrate that many responsible people in the NHS are still themselves very confused and misunderstand the telephone numbering system and associated charging regimes.   This hospital spokesman was presumably well prepared to make the quoted statements and yet still said several things which knowledgeable people would seriously question.

The most surprising thing about this announcement is that there is no reference whatsoever to the "Directions" issued by the Dept of Health and announced by the Health Minister that numbers such as 0845 are banned if they cause patients pay more for a call than if they had dialled a normal geographic number.    The hospital states this change is entirely due to pressure from patients?   :-? :o

Are we really expected to believe this?   Is this purely a coincidence that it comes shortly after the "banning" of 084 numbers within the NHS?   ;) :)

The hospital says “We introduced that number so our switchboard can operate from a different venue, namely Orsett Hospital, in the event of a disaster, such as a fire."   This is revealing because it exposes the lies perpetrated by the phone service industry and others when they claim, as they have over many years, that this sort of flexibility and ability to redirect calls, is only available by using rip-off 084/7 numbers and this is one of the justifications they use for 084/7 numbers instead of normal geographic numbers.   >:( >:(

The spokesman said "The move follows concerns from some people who confused the normal rate 0845 number with a premium 0870 telephone number, which is in fact, much more expensive."    We've got news for this spokesman --- the public are NOT confused at all -- you are!!    We know that all 084/7 numbers are a rip-off!!   You clearly don't understand what you are talking about!!  ::)    The spokesman still makes reference to the exceptional case of BT which currently includes 0845 and 0870 numbers within its packages, as though that is meaningful, but fails to mention that BT continues to charge premium rates to all other callers outside its packages.

It is a pity that it is necessary to criticise a hospital and its spokesman after it has made a highly commendable decision and has done the right thing -- at last.   But this criticism is caused by the intransigence and determination of those in key positions to continue to put about misleading informatuion and their failure to be honest with the public!!   :(

When are they going to start being honest and straightforward with the public?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by CJT-80 on Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:58am
You could alway's e-mail the press officer here: http://www.basildonandthurrock.nhs.uk/page.asp?node=41&sec=Contact_us#PressOffice

and point them in the right direction  ;)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Aug 20th, 2010 at 11:21am

loddon wrote on Aug 20th, 2010 at 9:01am:

Dave wrote on Aug 18th, 2010 at 9:34pm:

Quote:
Hospital restores 01268 code to its number

This is good news but it raises a few important questions and goes to illustrate that many responsible people in the NHS are still themselves very confused and misunderstand the telephone numbering system and associated charging regimes.

The comments made above, as well as those added to the Echo article, indicate that confusion and misunderstanding on points of fine detail is widespread. I will refrain from addressing each of them, or trying to guess which are due to genuine ignorance rather than deliberate deceit. I do not disregard the importance of "getting it right", however I feel that there are quite enough cases where dishonesty and misunderstanding are used to support the improper retention of 084 numbers to occupy our campaigning energies.

The Chief Executives of all the hospitals listed here have been briefed repeatedly (I can supply email addresses). I suggest that they are more in need of further efforts to point them in the right direction than those who have already seen the light - if only through a mist of confusion.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:14pm

loddon wrote on Aug 20th, 2010 at 9:01am:
The hospital says “We introduced that number so our switchboard can operate from a different venue, namely Orsett Hospital, in the event of a disaster, such as a fire."   This is revealing because it exposes the lies perpetrated by the phone service industry and others when they claim, as they have over many years, that this sort of flexibility and ability to redirect calls, is only available by using rip-off 084/7 numbers and this is one of the justifications they use for 084/7 numbers instead of normal geographic numbers.   >:( >:(

If it is the case that disaster recovery facilities have been compromised, then these people should be sacked! Disaster recovery plans should not be influenced by pressure from the public.

The fact that they can now revert back to a geographic number shows that either they have sacrificed part of the disaster recovery plan or really they chose to us a premium number and then lie about it! (Well they did the latter anyway.)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:41pm

Dave wrote on Aug 20th, 2010 at 10:14pm:
If it is the case that disaster recovery facilities have been compromised, then these people should be sacked! Disaster recovery plans should not be influenced by pressure from the public.

The fact that they can now revert back to a geographic number shows that either they have sacrificed part of the disaster recovery plan or really they chose to us a premium number and then lie about it! (Well they did the latter anyway.)

It is easy to understand how switching the destination point of a non-geographic number provides a ready means of dealing with a situation where a local telephone connection is cut off. That is not to say that alternative arrangements could not be made to re-route a geographic number if necessary. It is all a matter of cost.

I have always argued that if the expense of having a non-geographic number is worth the benefit, then a 03 number must be used, except where it is appropriate for callers to pay for the benefit. In the unlikely event that the issues are fully and accurately understood, this hospital has decided that the disaster recovery benefits of having a 03 number do not outweigh the additional cost.

(I am not sure if repeating a half-baked story from a telephone salesman or conveying an obvious misunderstanding counts as "lying". If we approach these NHS bodies convinced that they know exactly what they are doing, then we are perhaps likely to be less successful in persuading them to change than we could be.)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Sep 12th, 2010 at 9:28am
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7996485/U-turn-on-pledge-to-scrap-hospital-parking-charges.html

>:( >:( >:( :'( :'(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 12th, 2010 at 9:42am

sherbert wrote on Sep 12th, 2010 at 9:28am:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/7996485/U-turn-on-pledge-to-scrap-hospital-parking-charges.html

>:( >:( >:( :'( :'(

As followers of my feeds will know, I am very busy at present. Perhaps someone would like to follow this up with the DH and the media to see if the ban on use of expensive telephone numbers is also going to be scrapped.

If NHS hospitals need money badly, perhaps they should be allowed (or compelled) to switch to 090 premium rate service numbers.

To be fair, I was no fan of Andy Burnham's car park charges plan. It was totally lacking any sense of principle, being largely pragmatic and heavily weighted in favour of one rather noisy special interest patient's group.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Sep 12th, 2010 at 11:27am
The average charge per hour for hospital car parks in England in 2008/9 was £1.09.

To make a visit to see a sick relative or friend or being an outpatient, this is  outrageous.

SCV may have this sort of money to spend, however most of us don't.

This can not be right, whatever our government and SCV might think :(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 12th, 2010 at 1:08pm

sherbert wrote on Sep 12th, 2010 at 11:27am:
The average charge per hour for hospital car parks in England in 2008/9 was £1.09.

To make a visit to see a sick relative or friend or being an outpatient, this is  outrageous.

SCV may have this sort of money to spend, however most of us don't.

This can not be right, whatever our government and SCV might think :(

There can be a serious issue with any parking charge for patients and with excessive charges for the area in other cases.

I drive a car in London, so I must have that sort of money to spend when visiting friends at home, whether they are sick or well.

How much do people have to spend visiting a sick relative or friend in hospital, or attending an outpatient appointment, by public transport or taxi, is that not equally outrageous?

There are undoubtedly many cases where hospital car park charges are excessive. There are undoubtedly others where they are reasonable and there is a proper scheme for exemptions. There are probably cases where there is no charge and the spaces are taken up by those with no business at the hospital. There may be cases where parking charges were dropped, more staff and visitors starting using their cars and a local bus service was cancelled. There are probably cases where there is no charge and all works well.

I am no fan of this government and will be making the strongest possible objections to the proposals in the Health White Paper. This is however one issue which can only be sorted out locally, based on the principles of the NHS.

On telephone numbers, this has to be dealt with nationally. The principles of the NHS demand that all use of revenue sharing numbers in the delivery of NHS services be prohibited - that is simple. Some issues are clear black and white, others are striped.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Sep 12th, 2010 at 2:27pm
I think I have said earlier on this thread, that I had a friend whose wife was in hospital for three weeks and ended up paying £60 a week to park his car at the hospital just to visit her daily. It just ain't right.

I have also mentioned elsewhere that we used to have a 'free' minibus linking up three hospitals in my neck of the woods, until Blair and his cronies put an end to that. >:(

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Sep 12th, 2010 at 6:41pm

sherbert wrote on Sep 12th, 2010 at 2:27pm:
It just ain't right.

I totally agree. I cannot think where it could be appropriate to require someone to incur that level of parking fee.

The previous government is not generally renowned for withdrawing funding for the NHS that was provided by its predecessor, however if that is what happened in this case then again, it is not right. The previous government left office with a policy of being ready to cut the NHS budget whereas the present government is guaranteeing to maintain it. It is somewhat odd to deal with Labour as cutting back public spending on the NHS whilst the Conservatives follow the opposite path.



Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Sep 17th, 2010 at 10:22am
More on my 'pet subject' >:( >:( >:(

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1312545/Hospital-parking-fury-Patients-visitors-face-charges-4-hour.html


I guess the answer is don't get ill. ::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Oct 11th, 2010 at 7:57am
Even more.....


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1319330/Tax-sick-hospitals-increase-car-park-charges-150-cent.html


>:(

Title: Mid Essex Hospitals to scrap 0844 number
Post by Dave on Oct 24th, 2010 at 8:25pm
Mid Essex Hospitals is to abandon its 0844 numbers soon. This is to bring it in line with national strategy and complaints from the public and external bodies.

The new number is (01245) 443673 and this is now in service and answered with the same automated menu as the 0844 number.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Oct 26th, 2010 at 6:26pm
Someone may feel inspired to add a comment to a piece of nonsense I stumbled onto - The Importance of 0844 Numbers


Quote:
But are 084 numbers really that bad? Let’s take a look and see! ...

It is because of grossly ignorant or blatantly dishonest drivel like this, and the willingness of many to believe it, that we are in the present mess. Two months to go and many NHS bodies still using 084 numbers.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Oct 26th, 2010 at 7:43pm
What a curious dialect of English is used in that link SCV. Clearly the writers are from another planet.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 9:42am
Subscribers to my feed of news on this topic will have noted some interesting developments.

Forum members may feel recent items to be worthy of comment here.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 11:38am

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 9:42am:
Subscribers to my feed of news on this topic will have noted some interesting developments.

Forum members may feel recent items to be worthy of comment here.

This is great news, although I am not sure why the 0844 number for appointments is staying. If it is to be kept in service for now, the best thing to do would be to change it to the 01245 number when items come up for re-print.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 12:25pm

Dave wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 11:38am:
... I am not sure why the 0844 number for appointments is staying. If it is to be kept in service for now, the best thing to do would be to change it to the 01245 number when items come up for re-print.

The media release explains this:


Quote:
The 0844 appointments line will work in conjunction with the new 01245 number until 31 March 2011, to allow ample time to communicate the new telephone number on patients’ appointment letters.  After this date the hospital will use only contact numbers prefixed with the local code, 01245.

All other calls to 0844 numbers will be met by a recorded message. I assume that the new appointments line number will be put on new letters as soon as possible, as suggested. It was presumably felt that calls should be answered on the old number, as it had been advised in correspondence, although only until the end of March, when the recorded message will cease to be provided on the other numbers.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by CJT-80 on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:16pm
Sorry to slightly hijack this thread, I just wanted to point something rather obvious out,

On the Contact Us page the contact number is printed no less then 5 times, next to each Hospital in both UK and International Formats, even though the number is the same.

I have of course used the "Feedback" page to tell them.

::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:27pm

CJT-80 wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:16pm:
Sorry to slightly hijack this thread, I just wanted to point something rather obvious out,

On the Contact Us page the contact number is printed no less then 5 times, next to each Hospital in both UK and International Formats, even though the number is the same.

Under each address it says:

http://www.meht.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/contact-us/


Quote:
Main Switchboard - 01245 443673

Overseas callers please dial   +44 (0)1245 443673


I think it's fair enough to quote the number under each hospital's address. It is also correct to write the number twice; in national format and international format. The erroneous "(0)" in the overseas version requires removal.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by CJT-80 on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 10:03pm

Dave wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:27pm:

CJT-80 wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:16pm:
Sorry to slightly hijack this thread, I just wanted to point something rather obvious out,

On the Contact Us page the contact number is printed no less then 5 times, next to each Hospital in both UK and International Formats, even though the number is the same.

Under each address it says:

http://www.meht.nhs.uk/patients-and-visitors/contact-us/


Quote:
Main Switchboard - 01245 443673

Overseas callers please dial   +44 (0)1245 443673


I think it's fair enough to quote the number under each hospital's address. It is also correct to write the number twice; in national format and international format. The erroneous "(0)" in the overseas version requires removal.


Dave agreed on the (0) being removed but the number is identical for ALL 5 entries, it would be far easier to put " To contact the following Hospitals please call "

Job done really.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 10:42pm

CJT-80 wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 10:03pm:

Dave wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:27pm:

CJT-80 wrote on Dec 2nd, 2010 at 7:16pm:
Sorry to slightly hijack this thread, ...
...
...

Please, if we are obsessed with suggesting ways of revising the layout of webpages where changes in circumstances have rendered the original format inappropriate, perhaps we could give attention to this old page - NHS bodies using revenue sharing telephone numbers.

There has been somewhere between modest progress and total victory with the following items (in sequence) 1, 2 , 4, 7, 8, 9, 15, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 29, 30, 34 and 40. With the deadline for compliance with the Department of Health Directions only three weeks away, I am more concerned with making this list incorrect than ensuring its correctness. I would be grateful for any assistance.

In due course I will be hoping to publish an "after" version to show what has been achieved.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by CJT-80 on Dec 3rd, 2010 at 5:13pm
SCV I am a little confused as to the what you want us to do?

Advise you if they have 01/02/03 alternatives?

Or something else?

:-?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 3rd, 2010 at 7:49pm

CJT-80 wrote on Dec 3rd, 2010 at 5:13pm:
SCV I am a little confused as to the what you want us to do

Fair point, I was not explicit. I hold firm with the idea that it is for each of us to make whatever contribution we wish, both to the debate and to campaigning efforts. If I implied a demand or called on a duty (as it could have been seen), then I apologise.

Many of the NHS bodies listed on the web page referred to have geographic alternatives which they publish alongside the 084 number; others have removed the 084 altogether. In the course of my ringing round over the last couple of days, two have been persuaded to take further action to this end. When I referred to "making this list incorrect", I was thinking of that type of activity. The list is not being updated as changes occur; it reflects the extent of the problem at its worst.

My request for assistance was to cover any case where someone perhaps spots a local NHS body to whom they would be ready to make representations calling on them to comply with the Department of Health Directions, perhaps citing the greater cost which they personally incur when calling the 084 number. If anyone has the time, energy and enthusiasm to join me in addressing the list as a whole, then please get in touch by email or PM.

Mid Essex Hospitals has been a success for which we can all take credit. There are many others which have succumbed to (or been informed by) the mass of public pressure on this issue. The DH Directions have only served to formalise the point, they have served little purpose on their own.

Once the 21 December deadline has passed, and all have returned from the holiday, a much cleaner situation with NHS bodies will make it easier to put pressure on the GPs during the three months up to their deadline. Demonstrating the number of NHS bodies that have ceased to rely on 084 numbers will also help to show that change is necessary.


I am well aware that this is an open discussion forum; it is not a place for campaigning tub-thumping, or for detailed coverage of campaigning efforts and tactics. My comments here, and previously, are therefore (strictly speaking) out of order. I was struck by what seemed to me to be a wholly inappropriate and disproportionate response to what Mid Essex Hospitals had done, and sought to re-focus attention on the issue of substance. I hope I made my point fairly, although there was an explicit statement of disagreement with other contributors and suggestion of alternative action. These were however expressed in a tone that could reasonably be understood to be personal criticism and a call for action by particular individuals, rather than general comment. For that I apologise.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 11th, 2010 at 9:00am
All that follows is planned and expected to happen, although live broadcasting is always subject to last minute change.

BBC Radio Essex will be doing a piece on the abandonment of 0844 numbers by Broomfield Hospital (Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust) on Monday morning (13 December) at around 0740.

The discussion is likely to move on to the question of other Hospitals in Essex with 084 numbers:
Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 155 3111, South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust - 0845 603 6288 and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust (Members Helpline) - 0845 8734610.

It may also discuss other NHS bodies in Essex still using 084 numbers, including the GP Out of Hours services commissioned directly by PCTs as follows: Mid Essex - 0844 736 0276, North East Essex - 0845 602 5215, South East Essex - 0845 850 2783, West Essex - 0845 070 1611, South West Essex - 0845 602 1807, Havering - 0845 075 0496, Redbridge - 0845 075 0497, Barking and Dagenham - 0845 075 0495.

Briefing for the station has also included lists of each of the GPs in the county using 0844 numbers.

It is hoped that this initial item will explain the current situation regarding the Directions to NHS Bodies and the Revisions to the GP Contracts. It is intended that the item close with a challenge to be laid down to a later contributor. ...


It is planned that at 0805, local MP and Minister of State for Health, Simon Burns will comment on the news from Broomfield and the points raised in the earlier piece. If all goes to plan, Mr Burns will be able to confirm that NHS bodies have to abandon 084 numbers by 21 December and GPs must do the same by 31 March 2011, following the example set by his local hospital. Alternatively, he will be asked to confirm that NHS patients, in Essex and elsewhere, are to be victims of the "cuts" as they continue to make financial contributions to NHS providers that choose to use these numbers.

It is hoped that Mr Burns will be warned of the challenge that he is to face, so that he can be sure to be able to provide a proper and complete answer.



In case anyone is confused, I am suggesting that members may wish to listen in to BBC Radio Essex from 0735 on Monday morning. It broadcasts on 95.3 and 103.5 FM and on DAB and is available to listen live. The Monday Breakfast Show will be available to "listen again". I hope to publish a clip, which will be advised on this news feed - visit to subscribe to updates at any time.

Those who may wish to add their comments will be able to call the programme on 01245 495050.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Dec 13th, 2010 at 8:24am
Listeners to Radio Essex may be disappointed at the fact that Simon Burns failed to address the issue of the telephone numbers as expected and requested.

Feedback is invited on 01245 495050.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jan 11th, 2011 at 10:12am
This is a novel way to get around the problem perhaps.....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1345982/Now-insurance-companies-offer-cover-300-year-NHS-hospital-parking-fees.html

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jan 11th, 2011 at 12:43pm

sherbert wrote on Jan 11th, 2011 at 10:12am:
This is a novel way to get around the problem perhaps.....

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1345982/Now-insurance-companies-offer-cover-300-year-NHS-hospital-parking-fees.html

"Cash plan" insurance will also help cover the cost of expensive telephone calls incurred due to illness.

There are many conditions that require frequent hospital visits; I see no good reason to single out one part of the transport costs incurred by some patients with just one condition.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jan 11th, 2011 at 1:55pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jan 11th, 2011 at 12:43pm:
There are many conditions that require frequent hospital visits; I see no good reason to single out one part of the transport costs incurred by some patients with just one condition.



SCV being negative as usual. At least this a start and a step in the right direction .(the insurance idea, not SCV being negative!!)

It is ok for Londoners who can hop on  bus or a tube to get to their hospital or doctor relativity easy, us folk who live in the sticks, who have to drive to a hospital would find the hospital parking the most expensive bit, even with fuel rising in price. Indeed, in my county you have to drive into the next county to visit a hospital, so even if we can park on NHS land for 'free' with the help of this new insurance it would be a great help.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jan 11th, 2011 at 4:06pm

sherbert wrote on Jan 11th, 2011 at 1:55pm:
SCV being negative as usual. ...

I hope that it is not seen as "negative" to refer to the fact that those who wish to purchase "cash plan" health insurance thereby obtain help in meeting all of the expenses incurred as a result of illness. This is nothing new in itself - the insurance companies are however always finding new ways of justifying and marketing their products - pretending to be addressing an injustice is a commonly used technique.

I did not intend to be "negative" by minimising the particular degree of distress felt by those who suffer from cancer, nor the additional transport costs incurred by those who live in rural areas. I only sought to point out that neither was unique.

Every hospital trust should do whatever it can to avoid patients incurring incidental costs in accessing NHS services. Actually levying charges itself for necessary means of access must be prohibited, as is so under the terms of the NHS Constitution. I believe that every NHS body should allow access by telephone without itself imposing a "Service Charge". I do not believe that they should necessarily subsidise caller's costs by offering a "freephone" number, although this use of taxpayer's money could be considered, alongside other priorities. I would apply the same principles to access by transport.

If patients are only generally able to access a hospital by private car, parking in the hospital car park, then it is very difficult (perhaps impossible) to justify parking charges in such a case. This does not mean, as many propose, that every NHS hospital car park should be used to provide free public parking, effectively at the expense of the NHS.

I suspect that Sherbert and I agree that with the car parking issue each case has to be considered separately, as local circumstances vary significantly. Contrary to what the Department of Health has suggested - this is not true with NGCS telephone call charges, where the same rates apply across the UK (the minor differences in Hull are not significant).

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:43am
I must be lucky. My local hospital uses a geographic number.

Carparking is normally £2.60 for two hours. I have to spend 5 hours in hospital, three times a week for haemodialysis, so I get a reduced rate parking ticket: £2.50 for the three days.

Better than that (shhh!) they'll arrange taxi transport for me for free.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jan 12th, 2011 at 11:16am

Stoday wrote on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:43am:
Better than that (shhh!) they'll arrange taxi transport for me for free.

Free to you maybe, but at the expense of the taxpayer.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by derrick on Jan 12th, 2011 at 12:18pm
Not sure how long they have been doing this as they used to charge a lot more, but Royal Preston Hospital have a 24 hour charging period for £1.50;-
"Patients and visitors pay a fixed car parking charge of £1.50. per 24 hour period (*equivalent to 6p. per hour unless they are classified as exempt from charges. The first 15 minutes form entering the car parks is free of charge. "

Also a discounted ticket;-
"For out-patients who attend frequently as part of their treatment, or in-patients who have visitors attending regularly, and are not exempt from car parking charges, a 7 day discounted ticket may be purchased at a cost of £7.00 (equivalent to 4p. per hour) as opposed to the normal £1.50 per day (equivalent to 6p. per hour)."

They also have an exemption policy (and an 01 telephone number);-
"Exemption letters may be obtained from the respective Ward Managers and will be required when exiting the car parks."



Royal Preston Hospital

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:27pm

Dave wrote on Jan 12th, 2011 at 11:16am:
Free to you maybe, but at the expense of the taxpayer.

If this is necessary to obtain access to NHS treatment, then quite rightly so.



derrick wrote on Jan 12th, 2011 at 12:18pm:
Royal Preston Hospital ( / Chorley & South Ribble Hospital - Car Parking)

If this sophisticated car park charging system works in practice and is generally seen as fair, then I totally oppose those who are calling for it to be prohibited - and describe my position as "negative".

Use of "Business Rate" telephone numbers in connection with delivery of NHS services must however be prohibited in every case.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:38pm

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:27pm:
I totally oppose those who are calling for it to be prohibited - and describe my position as "negative".


I don't think anyone would object to pay what Royal Preston Hospital are charging.


The charges to park at East Surrey Hospital  (Redhill) http://www.surreyandsussex.nhs.uk/travel/parking.asp  are below. Whist they probably seem quite reasonable for a one off visit, to make regular visits as an out patient or as a visitor I think is very expensive.

Length of stay            Charge
Up to 15 minutes      No charge: if visitors are unable to find a parking space, exit within this time.
0 - 2 hours                      £2
2-3 hours                       £3
3-4 hours                       £4
4-5 hours                       £5
5-6 hours                       £6
6-7 hours                       £7
7-8 hours                       £8
8-9 hours                       £9
10-24 hours                  £12

Over 24 hours £25 per day

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jan 12th, 2011 at 3:23pm

sherbert wrote on Jan 12th, 2011 at 1:38pm:
I don't think anyone would object to pay what Royal Preston Hospital are charging.

Perhaps we can then agree that calling for a universal ban on hospital car parking charges is missing the point that some hospitals clearly get it wrong, whereas others do not. The same does not apply to Business Rate telephone numbers - all of which must be banned for patient contact with the NHS.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 5th, 2011 at 9:20am
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/8556490/Hospitals-attacked-over-outrageous-32m-car-park-profit.html



By Alastair Jamieson

9:00PM BST 04 Jun 2011


Across the NHS in England, total profits from parking rose by 14 per cent last year, to around £32 million.

The increase came as two trusts - West Hertfordshire, and Luton and Dunstable - introduced minimum parking charges of £4.

The charges were condemned as "outrageous" and a "tax on the sick" by the Patients Association, which called on the Coalition to make hospital parking free in England, as it is in Scotland and Wales.


On average, two hours' hospital parking costs £2.29 – 60 per cent higher than the average for council car parks used by shoppers. Half of all trusts levy a minimum charge, with no free parking except for key groups such as cancer patients.
Related Articles


Some of the trusts making the most profit from parking have been condemned for poor patient care. Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust, one of four making an annual profit of more than £1 million, last week apologised for leaving patients so dehydrated that doctors were forced to prescribe water.

The other three trusts making more than £1 million were Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, Southampton University Hospitals and South London Healthcare.

Michelle Mitchell, charity director at Age UK, said: "Many older people and their families rely on their car to attend hospital.

"Hospitals must not make car parking charges an unreasonable barrier to getting treatment or unfairly penalise people for visiting relatives who often help to provide care."

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: "These new figures reveal the startlingly high costs some patients are facing. Hospitals should not have to rely on charging patients and visitors to park to make ends meet.

"It is outrageous that some hospitals are charging sick people so much money to access services they need.

"Car parking charges make a mockery of a service supposed to be free at the point of need, and we urge the Department of Health to scrap these charges as they have been in Scotland and Wales."

The figures are based on a Freedom of Information request to England's 175 acute hospital trusts. Three-quarters replied, and nationwide totals were extrapolated from their responses.

The findings revealed big differences between hospitals. While four trusts recorded £1 million-plus profits from parking last year, the majority said they broke even and six made a loss.

The total paid by patients and visitors to park at hospitals has risen by one-third in three years, from £111 million in 2007/08 to around £149 million in 2010/11.

Seven trusts made more than £2 million in revenue last year, including Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust which collected £2.8 million from patients and visitors.

Those making the biggest profit were mostly foundation trusts, which operate like businesses and which will become the template for all hospitals under the Government's planned NHS reforms.

The figures also show 109,000 fines were issued in hospital car parks last year, earning trusts a further £874,300. London's Imperial College NHS Trust alone issued fines totalling £110,000.

Some 1,300 drivers were clamped – 651 of them at one trust, St George's in Tooting, south London. It said most of the affected cars were owned by staff.

Kevin O'Regan, services director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which has several car parks, said: "All surplus income we receive from car parks is always reinvested in NHS services here in Sheffield.

"We have not increased car parking charges for two years at any of our five hospitals and in addition we provide a free shuttle bus between the hospital sites, free drop off zones for accident and emergency patients and mums in labour as well as free parking for cancer and renal dialysis patients."

The Royal Free Hampstead NHS Trust said its charges – the highest in England at £6 for two hours – reflected "the need to deter shoppers and other casual users and the high cost of providing car parking in London".

Luton and Dunstable Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said it had increased charges "with reluctance", adding: "The next few years are going to be very challenging for all publicly funded organisations."

A spokesman for West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust said: "We have to make difficult decisions regarding how what we spend our constrained resources. It is our duty to ensure that we focus these resources on patients."

The Department of Health said: "NHS organisations have the autonomy to make decisions locally and should work with their local communities to set appropriate policies."

All the trusts making a profit said money was reinvested in treating patients.

Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs the Trafford General Hospital in Manchester, last year became the first of its kind in England

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Jun 5th, 2011 at 5:32pm
It's not unreasonable to charge for carparking in hospital grounds if the availability of carparking space is limited and insufficient to meet demand. It's the best way to give patients the incentive to travel by public transport. If those who enjoy the most convenient access to public transport use it, space is left for those for whom access is difficult. Pricing is a good way of achieving this, providing the price is higher than the cost of a bus journey from the nearest population centre.


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 5th, 2011 at 6:27pm
We have had this argument before. (see my posts #146 & #166) It is near an impossibility in my neck of the woods to use public transport  to get to a our hospital and if you do you need to set out the day before. Wales and Scotland do not charge for hospital car parking.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Keith on Jun 5th, 2011 at 7:53pm
Same story as Sherbert (and it is not as if I live in the middle of beyond). There was plenty of free on road parking around our hospital, but all of a sudden yellow lines appeared as well as parking bays for 1 hour only (too short for a hospital appointment). As there are no shops, just residential roads this looks awfully suspicious as an attempt to force you to use the hospital car park.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:25pm
Agree with Keith, I'm sure "they" are in collusion to make people use the hospital car park so they make money.  In Cambridge, before we moved, many people used to park at the Park & Ride car park and, with the knowledge and advice of staff who knew the bus service was unreliable, walked the 10-15 minutes to Addenbrookes -  so what was the council proposing?  Make a charge for parking in additiona to the bus fare to prevent people from doing this.   Again a hospital with a massive catchment area covering a mostly rural population (other than Cambridge itself) with buses a rare & endangered species.

It has been successive governments who have decided to centralise patient care and health services in large, often inaccessible hospitals, and now encourage said hospitals to profiteer from patients needing to access the services. To my mind, this is a "charge" for accessing health care (and this is not a plea for petrol or bus fares to be paid, that's been thrown back in the past at those of us who oppose hospital parking charges), it's an expression of outrage that those needing medical care are being charged excessively to access it if they need to travel by car.   It is also a fact that many hospital appointments run late, often very late, meaning that unless it's a "pay on exit" car park, and very few if any are, people end up putting perhaps more than necessary into the machine to cover themselves, also patients are sometimes sent to other areas, such as for a blood test, after the appointment so this can cost a fortune.


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:40pm

Barbara wrote on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:25pm:
(and this is not a plea for petrol or bus fares to be paid, that's been thrown back in the past at those of us who oppose hospital parking charges),



Indeed, the person who made this ridiculous statement in the past and seems to find it acceptable to charge for car parking at hospitals, I believe lives in London where there is a pubic transport system that most of us would 'die' for, if you will excuse the pun.

A case of 'I am all right Jack' springs to mind


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:47pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:40pm:
Indeed, the person who made this ridiculous statement in the past and seems to find it acceptable to charge for car parking at hospitals, I believe lives in London where there is a pubic transport system that most of us would 'die' for, if you will excuse the pun.

A case of 'I am all right Jack' springs to mind

So you believe that in areas where public transport is a plenty, then hospital parking should be free - and this is on the basis that other areas where there is limited public transport should be free also.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 6th, 2011 at 3:21pm
My point is well known on this site.

All hospital car parking for out patients and family and friends visiting in patients should be free, as it is in Scotland & Wales. I shall continue to fight for this. We now seem to have a NHS system controlled and taxed by Whitehall but Scotland & Wales allow free car parking (and free prescriptions). This can not be fair.

My doctor's surgery has a very large free car park, they do not charge their patients for the privilege of seeing them


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Stoday on Jun 6th, 2011 at 4:29pm

Barbara wrote on Jun 6th, 2011 at 2:25pm:
   It is also a fact that many hospital appointments run late, often very late, meaning that unless it's a "pay on exit" car park, and very few if any are, people end up putting perhaps more than necessary into the machine to cover themselves, also patients are sometimes sent to other areas, such as for a blood test, after the appointment so this can cost a fortune.

Non "pay on exit" charges discriminate against patients.

Visitors can control their timing so that they use the paid for time to the maximum extens. Patients can't do that and end up paying as much as double to visitors' charge.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jun 29th, 2011 at 1:37am

sherbert wrote on Jun 6th, 2011 at 3:21pm:
My point is well known on this site.

All hospital car parking for out patients and family and friends visiting in patients should be free, as it is in Scotland & Wales.  
This is simply not practical. Hospital parking charges should be proportionate, fair and consistent with the surrounding area. Exemptions should be permitted according to medical or financial need. Free parking is open to abuse. Monitoring vehicles to prevent abuse will add cost. While some parking costs at some facilities is not acceptable, and the implementation of some parking systems is not ideal, a blanket free-for-all is unworkable.

I worked at both University College and Charing Cross hospitals in the 80s. I do not recall any free public parking at either facility at that time, nor would I have expected such a lavish arrangement. I certainly would not expect, in 2011, to drive into Hammersmith and expect to park, at no cost, at a major hospital.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 29th, 2011 at 9:07am
Well in that case why is a hospital (In Manchester I think) has abolished all hospital car parking charges? They found it practical and if they can do it so can others as have all the hospitals have done in Scotland I believe.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Jun 29th, 2011 at 9:40am
I'm with sherbert on this one, for reasons which I've explained previously.  Regarding London hospitals, many of these surely don't have car parks anyway and are well served by public transport, we have friends living on the edge of Greater London who would not consider driving their car into London under any circumstances, on the occasions when I had to travel to a hospital in London from North Essex, often with a child, it would not have occurred to me to drive as it would be far too much hassle, never mind the parking & congestion charges.   I think the points sherbert & I are making (& he'll correct me if I've misunderstood!) is that for many, if not most people, there is no adequate means of reaching the local hospital other than by car, they have already paid for their petrol/diesel (a fortune these days) ie their fare & then to be charged again to park amounts to a tax of hospital access, this would also go for visitors as it is considered beneficial in health terms for patients to have visitors, often they actually help & support medical staff in patient care.

Regarding monitoring of who uses the car park, I would refer to Addenbrookes which, prior to charging, used to monitor access to the outpatients' car park by people showing their appointment card/letter, this worked extremely well.  Now, with their expensive multi-storey which might still be more convenient for non-hospital related "parkers", there seems to be no check whatsoever - if you're prepared to pay, you can park.  How's that an improvement?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:16am
Spot on Barbara!

As I have written here before, my nearest hospital  is over 20 miles away and in the next county! To get there by public transport is impossible and you more or less have to leave the night before to get there for first thing in the morning! So, car is the only way to get there....and no I am not advocating that petrol should be paid for as well. We don't expect to pay to park in out of town retail parks, so why should we pay to park at hospitals?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 29th, 2011 at 11:03am

sherbert wrote on Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:16am:
Spot on Barbara!

As I have written here before, my nearest hospital  is over 20 miles away and in the next county! To get there by public transport is impossible and you more or less have to leave the night before to get there for first thing in the morning! So, car is the only way to get there....and no I am not advocating that petrol should be paid for as well. We don't expect to pay to park in out of town retail parks, so why should we pay to park at hospitals?

Any policy of charging patients is put in place not because it is felt that they should be charged, but as strategy to prevent the undesired consequence of offering free parking, which is that those without business at hospitals will take advantage.

There are many things in life which are so, not because they "should" be in their own right, but because they are necessary as a practical solution to a problem (the undesired consequences).

There is often a fraternity that will argue against something but will not put forward practical solutions. Decisions on any policy should be based on sound logical reasoning for all the issues involved and not just a single part such as whether patients "should" be charged or not.


The protestors who stopped the coal train at Drax Power Station did so on what they claim is the basis of preventing climate change.

These sorts of people don't tend to offer any practical solution. Even though electrical generation is a free-market; they don't set-up their own "clean" power station. They targetted Drax because it is the largest coal-fired power station in Western Europe, but it's the most efficient!!

Let's not beat about the bush here. We don't burn coal for electricity because there is a need to have harmful gases emitted into the atmosphere. We don't drive our cars because we love the polution; we do so because to not do so would be a far worse position to be in.

But we should always strive to mitigate the negative effects as much as we can.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Jun 29th, 2011 at 1:30pm
I thought I had mentioned a solution, exactly what Addenbrookes used to do for its outpatient car park before it charged, check appointment details, yes it costs but so do many other things in hospitals which are not strictly medically necessary - even down to chairs in the waiting rooms or the provision of drinking water (free - so who pays for the cups?).  With so much technological advance now, it should not be impossible to devise a system whereby patients enter a pin number into a machine (as with door entry systems), visitors could use that relating to "their" patient & this would guarantee admission.   The other alternative would be to refund parking costs on presentation of an appointment document & visitors would be given a card by ward staff (something similar already happens at Addenbookes for visitors of patients in for a few days in terms of reduced parking).  Yes, all these would cost but would also benefit all users in terms of financial savings and considerably reduced stress & worry at difficult times.

As for the idea that hospitals are not doing this because they feel patients should be charged, I disagree.  I accept I am very cynical about health service manager types but I believe they just see this as a revenue stream which they are delighted to use as they are not allowed to make "direct" charges.   Referring to Addenbrookes again, their scheme for visitors of longer term patients is very well concealed, it is often very difficult to discover and often reliant upon the kindness of ward staff in advising relatives.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 29th, 2011 at 8:28pm

Dave wrote on Jun 29th, 2011 at 11:03am:

sherbert wrote on Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:16am:
Spot on Barbara!

As I have written here before, my nearest hospital  is over 20 miles away and in the next county! To get there by public transport is impossible and you more or less have to leave the night before to get there for first thing in the morning! So, car is the only way to get there....and no I am not advocating that petrol should be paid for as well. We don't expect to pay to park in out of town retail parks, so why should we pay to park at hospitals?

Any policy of charging patients is put in place not because it is felt that they should be charged, but as strategy to prevent the undesired consequence of offering free parking, which is that those without business at hospitals will take advantage.

There are many things in life which are so, not because they "should" be in their own right, but because they are necessary as a practical solution to a problem (the undesired consequences).

There is often a fraternity that will argue against something but will not put forward practical solutions. Decisions on any policy should be based on sound logical reasoning for all the issues involved and not just a single part such as whether patients "should" be charged or not.


The protestors who stopped the coal train at Drax Power Station did so on what they claim is the basis of preventing climate change.

These sorts of people don't tend to offer any practical solution. Even though electrical generation is a free-market; they don't set-up their own "clean" power station. They targetted Drax because it is the largest coal-fired power station in Western Europe, but it's the most efficient!!

Let's not beat about the bush here. We don't burn coal for electricity because there is a need to have harmful gases emitted into the atmosphere. We don't drive our cars because we love the polution; we do so because to not do so would be a far worse position to be in.

But we should always strive to mitigate the negative effects as much as we can.



Works in Scotland, so why not the England? So let sus use their solution.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/7593400.stm

To quote Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish Health Secretary, when she announced the ending of parking fees in 2008

"It's simply not fair to expect patients or visitors to have to pay when they come to hospital, when they may be suffering personal anxiety, stress or grief.

"Put bluntly, a car parking charge is often the last thing people need."


I think this sums up what Barbara and I have been banging on about.

I am sure someone is now going to tell me to move to Scotland ;)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Golf_Paul on Jun 29th, 2011 at 10:43pm
Move to Scotland.



;D  ;)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jun 30th, 2011 at 12:38pm
There are undoubtedly cases where NHS hospital car parking charges are inappropriate and wholly improper. On these cases I am fully behind those who oppose them and would happily throw my weight into any specific campaign. If any such campaign is on-going, then I would be delighted to receive details and will do all I can.

Without going into detail in response to suggestions already made, I cannot see any way that a universal scheme for free hospital parking could be introduced without the risk of serious abuse that would cause it to be seen as unacceptable. Each locality is different with respect to the expectation of having to pay to park, the extent to which each patient and visitor has a need to travel by car and park is different. I wish there were a simple and proper universal answer, but I cannot see it.

I do not want hospitals that have land available for car parking to be forced to sell it off because they cannot raise any return from it. Neither do I want hospitals to be required to acquire car parking spaces so as to provide an equal facility on the grounds of equity.

I believe that this has to be a local issue. Any local hospital that is getting it wrong, e.g. by imposing charges in an area where street parking is available and free of charge, must be subjected to the full weight of campaigning energies.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:07pm
SCV....Why does it work in Scotland?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Barbara on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:22pm
SCV, surely it's where there isn't any free, off-street parking that the issue arises?   If there is free, nearby on-street parking, I would always use that rather than pay to park in the hospital (& used to at Addenbrookes until they colluded with the local council in covering the whole area in double yellow lines!).   As I've said before, in Cambridge even the staff at the P&R used to encourage people to park there & walk to the hospital (about 10-15 mins, bus service quite unreliable eg for appointments) but now, the Council responsible for the P&R is thinking of imposing parking charges in addition to the very high bus fares - I won't go into detail here about the unfair pricing of the P&R which grossly overcharges those only going to the hospital compared to those continuing to the city centre, a far greater distance.  To me, this proves collusion between hospital & council in maximising charges to those having to attend the hospital - a captive market to be exploited to the maximum.

Another stupid example of introducing parking charges was in Saffron Walden; the community hospital had a free car park, they decided to introduce parking charges - everyone moved to parking in the free, unlimited Tesco's car park on the opposite side of the road hence all that equipment installed at great cost, less mobile patients inconvenienced to a degree, & the hospital out of pocket as so few patients then used the car park.

As sherbert said, if they can do it in Scotland, why not in England?  I would add, parking at hospitals always used to be free, it worked then, I suggested monitoring systems to prevent/discourage abuse.

I am not involved in any campaign, I no longer live near Addenbrookes & am involved in battling now with the hospital in Cheltenham where the Trust uses only 0845 telephone numbers!  However, their parking charges are also very high so I will be seeking free on-street parking within 15 mins walk when I have time.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 30th, 2011 at 2:01pm
SCV.....Off street parking? How old fashioned. I have not seen that for years. Certainly not in my neck of the woods.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:20pm

Barbara wrote on Jun 29th, 2011 at 1:30pm:
I thought I had mentioned a solution, exactly what Addenbrookes used to do for its outpatient car park before it charged…

The most sensible way forward would seem to be that current schemes are looked at on a central basis rather than each hospital trust doing it locally.

Different locations might warrant different solutions.

I am all in favour of replacing car park charges with some other solution where possible.

One other thing to bear in mind is that where hospitals are on bus routes, their car parks might become a haven to an unofficial park and ride service.

What about the deficit caused by the loss of revenue from parking charges?



sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:07pm:
SCV....Why does it work in Scotland?

As an advocate and campaigner on a particular issue, it is surely up to the campaigner himself or herself to justify to others why such a change should be made. The campaigner cannot decide what is a suitable level of justification.

If others are not convinced, then it is not up to them to justify to the campaigner why this is the case. Only the campaigner must give justification and not the other way around. The fact that you resort to asking others to justify their position suggests serious weakness in your campaign.

Such tactics may be sufficient to win over audiences of daytime chat shows and the readerships of certain newspapers. Of course, when it goes wrong because of lack of consideration for the issues involved, they will simply blame those who enacted it (hospital trusts).



Barbara wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:22pm:
SCV, surely it's where there isn't any free, off-street parking that the issue arises?   If there is free, nearby on-street parking, I would always use that rather than pay to park in the hospital …

I believe that the opposite is the case. Hospital car parks are covered by CCTV and are therefore more secure whereas side roads are often not. Even where roads are covered, I feel that cars will be more likely targets on them than in hospital car parks.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:49pm

Dave wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:20pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:07pm:
SCV....Why does it work in Scotland?

As an advocate and campaigner on a particular issue, it is surely up to the campaigner himself or herself to justify to others why such a change should be made. The campaigner cannot decide what is a suitable level of justification.

If others are not convinced, then it is not up to them to justify to the campaigner why this is the case. Only the campaigner must give justification and not the other way around. The fact that you resort to asking others to justify their position suggests serious weakness in your campaign.

Such tactics may be sufficient to win over audiences of daytime chat shows and the readerships of certain newspapers. Of course, when it goes wrong because of lack of consideration for the issues involved, they will simply blame those who enacted it (hospital trusts).



As I have mentioned before doctors surgeries have free car parks, are you suggesting that the sick should pay for those as well? I have never seen these car parks abused.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 30th, 2011 at 4:03pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:49pm:

Dave wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:20pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:07pm:
SCV....Why does it work in Scotland?

As an advocate and campaigner on a particular issue, it is surely up to the campaigner himself or herself to justify to others why such a change should be made. The campaigner cannot decide what is a suitable level of justification.

If others are not convinced, then it is not up to them to justify to the campaigner why this is the case. Only the campaigner must give justification and not the other way around. The fact that you resort to asking others to justify their position suggests serious weakness in your campaign.

Such tactics may be sufficient to win over audiences of daytime chat shows and the readerships of certain newspapers. Of course, when it goes wrong because of lack of consideration for the issues involved, they will simply blame those who enacted it (hospital trusts).



As I have mentioned before doctors surgeries have free car parks, are you suggesting that the sick should pay for those as well? I have never seen these car parks abused.

...and even in the face of my above comments, you continue to ask questions of those you are apparently attempting to convince.  ::)

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 30th, 2011 at 4:31pm
Not at all. I have made my comments, reasons and parallels (as has others on this thread). Since the hospital parking charges have come in several years ago, have we seen an improvement in the NHS? I think the answer is no unless the proliferation of highly paid hospital executives and managers is counted as an improvement. Are you seriously suggesting that the removal of car parking charges would reduce the level of care in hospitals? I think not.

As for your other paragraphs, I will not be making any comments except to say that I always thought that this was an open forum for folk to discuss and air the ideas as they wish and not to told by the Global Moderator how to construct their posts.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jun 30th, 2011 at 5:08pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 4:31pm:
Not at all. I have made my comments, reasons and parallels (as has others on this thread). Since the hospital parking charges have come in several years ago, have we seen an improvement in the NHS? I think the answer is no unless the proliferation of highly paid hospital executives and managers is counted as an improvement. Are you seriously suggesting that the removal of car parking charges would reduce the level of care in hospitals? I think not.

The removal of parking charges would result in those revenues being removed from hospitals' budgets.



sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 4:31pm:
As for your other paragraphs, I will not be making any comments except to say that I always thought that this was an open forum for folk to discuss and air the ideas as they wish and not to told by the Global Moderator how to construct their posts.

The comments I have made are in response to other postings and I would have made them irrespective of whether I was a moderator or not. I do not see that my moderator status should mean that I must restrict what I may post.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jun 30th, 2011 at 5:17pm

Dave wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 5:08pm:

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 4:31pm:
As for your other paragraphs, I will not be making any comments except to say that I always thought that this was an open forum for folk to discuss and air the ideas as they wish and not to told by the Global Moderator how to construct their posts.

The comments I have made are in response to other postings and I would have made them irrespective of whether I was a moderator or not. I do not see that my moderator status should mean that I must restrict what I may post.




....and I do not see, why I must restrict what I may post.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 9th, 2011 at 12:55pm
Apparently the first three and a half hours in one of the car parks at the Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral are free.

There is also a free park and ride bus service available

Well done to Wirral NHS Trust [smiley=thumbsup.gif]


http://www.whnt.nhs.uk/practical_information/arrowe_park/parking.html

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by idb on Jul 9th, 2011 at 2:44pm

sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 3:49pm:
As I have mentioned before doctors surgeries have free car parks, are you suggesting that the sick should pay for those as well? I have never seen these car parks abused.
Living in inner London in the 80s, my local GP did not even have a patient car park. The choices were to either walk there, get a cab or a lift, park in the street (difficult), or park in the council pay facility at the end of the road. I would suspect that there is no longer any street parking available due to resident permits, and therefore there will be an associated cost in taking one's vehicle to the area. I suggest that urban surgeries have similar parking limitations and costs. Are you advocating reimbursement of parking fees for those within such areas who have to pay? Ditto for pharmacy visits.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Jul 9th, 2011 at 2:58pm
Living in the big cities there is plenty of public transport to get to the hospitals and for very little money, indeed the old folk do not have to pay for bus fares in this country at all. As I have already mentioned, I have yet to see a doctor charging for his car park, mine certainly doesn't, anymore than Tescos, Sainsburys et al.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Jul 9th, 2011 at 3:02pm

sherbert wrote on Jul 9th, 2011 at 12:55pm:
Apparently the first three and a half hours in one of the car parks at the Arrowe Park Hospital in Wirral are free.

There is also a free park and ride bus service available

Well done to Wirral NHS Trust

Hear hear! - we agree totally.  [smiley=thumbsup.gif]

This is a rather complex, carefully constructed scheme, which I am ready to assume to be well configured to address the true level of need. It is unquestionably put together with detailed consideration of local circumstances and is not a simple waiver of all charges.

If the scheme does work well for local people, then it must be commended.


Reviewing the thread, I note a question to me which I had not spotted. I am happy to respond, although I regret that my reply cannot be as complete as may have been hoped.


sherbert wrote on Jun 30th, 2011 at 1:07pm:
SCV....Why does it work in Scotland?

I cannot say whether it does or does not "work" in Scotland. If it does, this could be because there may be few large hospitals in densely occupied areas where parking is at a premium. I have been treated at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and recall that it is some distance from the City Centre, unlike many major hospitals in English cities. That is however the extent of my knowledge of the situation North of the Border, so I do not feel qualified to comment further.

If there are genuine lessons to be learned from directly comparable cases then they should be brought forward. I would be happy to consider comments from those who have the time to research this issue, as I am focussed on other matters.

(N.B. I am not saying that the problems that would be caused by removing all charges are restricted to city centre hospitals. Such cases are however easily recognised.)

In response to the question, with reference to the topic of this thread, it is regrettable that the Scottish Government has not gone as far as those of England and Wales in taking steps (albeit inadequate) to address the problem of expensive telephone numbers to contact NHS providers. The proportionate incidence is less, but that should make the problem easier to address, not less worthy of attention.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Aug 22nd, 2011 at 6:36pm
I have sought to draw attention to 20 "significant" cases of continuing breaches of the DH Directions with a media release today.

If anyone is aware of other "significant" cases that I have missed, please let me know.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by daveholland on Nov 8th, 2011 at 11:41am
The disgrace continues....

I posted about the disgraceful use of 0845 numbers by doctors about 18 months ago.  Still today, in my clinic surgery there is a a big notice saying "for your convenience we have set up a Lo-Call number..."

I understood that there was a "no profit" rule for doctors/NHS using 0845 numbers.   But my local clinic is a partnership therefore it is a business. 

Surely if a business reduces expenses (by making the client pay for the call and contribute to the running costs, kerching!) the nett result impacts on the profitability of the business.

But I can't complain openly because I now see reports that doctors are striking off patients with no warning.  I really need my doctor's services so I am  blackmailed into keeping shtum.  Last months it cost me £1.42 plus VAT to call the surgery 4 times because these calls are not included in the package I took from Virgin. 

- Doesn't help to spread my pension around does it?

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by Dave on Jan 12th, 2012 at 12:23am
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals contact page now gives alternatives for all its 0844 numbers.

For some reason, it has decided to give the call rates charged by one particular provider, despite the fact that these apply to few people:


Quote:
(0844 - 5p per minute daytime and evenings).
(01924 - 7.6p per minute daytime and 1p per minute evenings from a standard BT line).
(Rates are effective as at September 2011).

This is the sort of thing I'd expect from marketing material of BT's competitors so as to make its charges appear better than they actually are.

BT's most popular package is the Anytime one which means that geographic and 03 calls are zero fee. Yet the Trust claims that "a standard BT line" charges 7.6 pence per minute (as at September 2011).

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by CJT-80 on Jan 12th, 2012 at 9:00pm

Dave wrote on Jan 12th, 2012 at 12:23am:
The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals contact page now gives alternatives for all its 0844 numbers.

For some reason, it has decided to give the call rates charged by one particular provider, despite the fact that these apply to few people:


Quote:
(0844 - 5p per minute daytime and evenings).
(01924 - 7.6p per minute daytime and 1p per minute evenings from a standard BT line).
(Rates are effective as at September 2011).

This is the sort of thing I'd expect from marketing material of BT's competitors so as to make its charges appear better than they actually are.

BT's most popular package is the Anytime one which means that geographic and 03 calls are zero fee. Yet the Trust claims that "a standard BT line" charges 7.6 pence per minute (as at September 2011).


Dave something else I noted on that page is the NHS Choose and Book Number (0845 60 88888), having checked on Choose and Book the number has been amended to 0345 60 88888.

Thumbs up to the NHS Choose and Book line for changing it.. Thumbs down to Mid Yorkshire Hospitals for not updating it!


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Mar 16th, 2012 at 12:09pm
'Tax on the sick': One in four hospitals increase parking fees - some by up to 200 per cent

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 08:15, 16 March 2012 | UPDATED: 08:17, 16 March 2012


More than one in four hospital trusts have increased car parking charges, an NHS survey has found.

Some hospitals in England have raised charges by up to 200 per cent, with patients and their families and friends paying up to £3.50 an hour.

Hospital parking – which is free for most people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – earns the NHS more than £100million a year.
Under fire: The NHS has been criticised over its car park charges

Under fire: The NHS has been criticised over its car park charges

Campaigners condemned the ‘scandalous’ rises as a ‘tax on the sick’ and urged hospitals to follow government guidelines offering concessions to patients with long term illnesses, including cancer.

The figures show 28 per cent of trusts surveyed increased their average hourly parking charge for patients and visitors from last year and only 17 per cent reduced it.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust charged patients 200 per cent more this year, increasing prices from 25p an hour on average to 75p an hour.

Separate analysis found some trusts charge much more than the national average (77p) for an hour’s hospital parking, based on the average from a three-hour stay.
Defence: MP Simon Burns pointed out that the charges are used for patient care

Defence: MP Simon Burns pointed out that the charges are used for patient care

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust charges £2.50 an hour on average, with an hour’s stay costing £3.50.

Data analysts SSentif looked at figures given to the NHS Information Centre by 197 hospital and mental health trusts.

Duleep Allirajah, head of policy at  Macmillan Cancer Support, said: ‘This is scandalous news that some hospital trusts are raising revenue by increasing hospital parking charges. Charging patients for using hospital car parks is a tax on illness. We want every hospital in England to comply with the Government’s guidance to provide free or concessionary parking for patients travelling regularly to hospital for treatment.’

Health Minister Simon Burns said: ‘No one should be paying extortionate amounts to park in an NHS car park.

‘But introducing free hospital car parking could cost the NHS more than £100million – money that would otherwise be spent on patient care.’


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/money/cars/article-2115769/Tax-sick-One-hospitals-increase-parking-fees--200-cent.html

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by SilentCallsVictim on Mar 16th, 2012 at 3:45pm

sherbert wrote on Mar 16th, 2012 at 12:09pm:

Quote:
Defence: MP Simon Burns pointed out that the charges are used for patient care

Here is Mr Burns, Minister of State (health Services), again defending the idea that patients should pay for NHS services.

There are many sound arguments which could be used to explain why NHS Hospitals should not be required to sell off the land they use to provide car parks, or denied the opportunity to raise income from it. There is certainly no good argument for the NHS meeting the costs involved in travelling to and from the point where NHS services are delivered, for those who travel by private car.

I am dismayed that Mr Burns takes the opportunity to again state that he sees no problem in patients paying towards the cost of providing NHS services, when this should be met from taxation. He may just as well have said that hospital car park charges are justified because they enable the government to reduce taxes for high earners.

When discussing use of 0844 numbers recently, Mr Burns referred to them being within the level of charge that GPs "should" make for their NHS services.

Anyone who is any doubt about the intentions of the present government to replace our "National" health service with a "patient focussed" service, should note these remarks and the inevitable consequence in respect of how the new service will be funded. If Mr Burns is content for NHS services to be paid for by patients, he surely cannot believe that others should meet the costs incurred in providing whatever service a patient may choose in a free market.

Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on Mar 16th, 2012 at 7:27pm
More here

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17394126


Title: Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Post by sherbert on May 23rd, 2012 at 8:40am
Ok, I have now unfortunately become the 'world expert' on going to several hospitals ;)

During the last month I have had to attend The East Surrey Hospital in Redhill, Horsham, Crawley, Royal Surrey County Hospital Guildford and St Luke's Hospital at Guildford and I can report that all their telephone numbers whether to it is to the switchboards or the direct lines to the individuals are all geographical numbers :) As I am with 'Anytime' with BT this has been brilliant.

Then we come to my 'bug bear' car parking. Mainly it is about £1 an hour, which does get quite costly when you have to go a lot. :( However at St Luke's they have a brilliant scheme, because people have to have treatment there they give you a piece of paper with your patient number on and you put that on your dash board and then you pay £1.50 A DAY to park in their designated car park.  :) I actually think that is very fair if they are insisting on charging to park.

So, as I am usually the first to have a moan and be negative about car parking and NHS telephone calls on this site, it gives me pleasure to report that some things are getting better. :)

All I have to do now is get my doctor's practice to change from their 0844 number >:( ....whoops I have got to go there is a pig flying past my window. ;D

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