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GP 0870 numbers could be banned (Read 83,809 times)
idb
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GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Feb 1st, 2005 at 2:45pm
 
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4225777.stm

GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Ministers are considering banning GP surgeries using 0870 numbers amid concerns over the cost of patients' calls to their doctor.
About 300 of 10,600 UK practices have signed deals with Network Europe Group to install the lines, which are more expensive than traditional calls.

The Department of Health and GP leaders said patients should not be over-charged for calls to their doctor.

But NEG said patients saved money by spending less time on the phone.

Calls to the 0870 numbers are charged at 6.73p per minute - more than double the average rate of calls.

They have proved controversial over recent years as several banks and power companies started introducing them, but GPs are thought to be the first part of the public sector to embrace them.

Under the deals negotiated by NEG over the last year, a slice of the money goes to the company with the rest being taken by the network provider such as BT or NTL.

NEG, which spent four years designing the system, would not reveal how much it made from each call but said it was a small proportion.

Customer accounts director Scott Russell said GPs' patients using Surgery Line spend just two minutes on average on each call, compared to 4.5 minutes before.

He claimed the system speeds up the amount of time spent on calls as patients just have one number to call, whether they want to talk to the surgery during the day or a GP at night.

Under standard arrangements, a patient may have to call the GP surgery in order to find out what number to call even at evenings and weekends.

He said: "It is not actually costing patients any more money, we are just taking away some of the profits providers such as BT used to make.

"Nobody complains when they make money, just when we start doing it.

"The truth is patients are receiving a better service."


But a Department of Health spokesman said: "It is a complex issue and we are investigating to see whether 0870 numbers should be banned.

"We do not want to see patients paying over-the-odds when accessing local services."

Ministers are expected to make a decision in the next couple of weeks, although it is not clear whether a ban would affect surgeries that have already signed up, as the contracts last between three and seven years. Dr Maureen Baker, honorary secretary of the Royal College of GPs, added: "We are not in favour of these phone lines.

"Anything that creates barriers between patients and their GP and reinforces health inequalities is to be discouraged. We would urge other GP surgeries not to take up 0870 numbers."




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andy9
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #1 - Feb 1st, 2005 at 10:42pm
 
Quote:
But NEG said patients saved money by spending less time on the phone. 

Calls to the 0870 numbers are charged at 6.73p per minute - more than double the average rate of calls. 

How b..... disingenuous can they possibly get? 6.73p! They mean 6.73p +VAT
Just tell me anybody that can get the VAT back on calls to the doctor!
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bill
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #2 - Feb 2nd, 2005 at 9:09am
 
Yes, 6.73p + 17.5% VAT = 7.91p (the price BT
USED TO
quote).

HOWEVER, has anybody else noticed that the BT website has been updated and peak rate 0870 cals are now listed as being charged at 7.51p incl. VAT?
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andy9
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #3 - Feb 2nd, 2005 at 10:07pm
 
[quote author=bill] ... 0870 cals are now listed as being charged at 7.51p incl. VAT? [/quote]
Oh, now it's a bargain! What are we whingeing about?
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« Last Edit: Feb 2nd, 2005 at 10:08pm by andy9 »  
 
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andy9
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #4 - Feb 2nd, 2005 at 10:10pm
 
Can anyone explain how an 0870 number at least doubles the speed of the reception looking at the appointments diary?
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juby
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #5 - Feb 2nd, 2005 at 10:51pm
 
Que?
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andy9
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #6 - Feb 3rd, 2005 at 1:36am
 
[quote author=idb  link=1107269135/0#0 date=1107269135]
But NEG said patients saved money by spending less time on the phone.
...
Customer accounts director Scott Russell said GPs' patients using Surgery Line spend just two minutes on average on each call, compared to 4.5 minutes before.
[/quote]
Que?
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andy9
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #7 - Feb 3rd, 2005 at 1:46am
 
[quote author=idb  link=1107269135/0#0 date=1107269135]
NEG, which spent four years designing the system, would not reveal how much ...
[/quote]
I reckon if I couldn't learn about a phone system in 4 years, I'd say I was in the wrong business

Is this the best supplier?
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #8 - Feb 3rd, 2005 at 7:54pm
 
The next thing will be a 4p per mile for emergency call outs. The rationale would be that it improves the service to the patient because the new car goes quicker than the old one.

I am a retired hospital consultant and I deplore the action of these GPs. The extra cash will go straight into their pockets.
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idb
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #9 - Feb 3rd, 2005 at 8:05pm
 
[quote author=pelham9  link=1107269135/0#8 date=1107460473]I am a retired hospital consultant and I deplore the action of these GPs. The extra cash will go straight into their pockets.
[/quote]It's probably a little unfair to blame GPs, well most of them anyway. The blame lies with the shysters that sell these numbers by using deceit. Most GPs, like most of the general public, are probably unaware of the true extent of the rip-off. Coupled with lies such as "there will be no difference to your patients as these calls are only national-rate" and other garbage espoused by the likes of NEG, the GP probably thinks he/she is getting a good deal. The real villains are the 0870 resellers who, like those that purvey ringtones, reverse SMS, premium rate numbers and other mechanisms that exploit the UK numbering system, just sit back and watch the $$$ flow in. I suspect that most, if not all of the revenue will end up with NEG.
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idb
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #10 - Feb 4th, 2005 at 1:42pm
 
[quote author=idb  link=1107269135/0#9 date=1107461137]
It's probably a little unfair to blame GPs, well most of them anyway. [/quote]Think I may have to rethink this!

http://www.thisishertfordshire.co.uk/news/borehamwood/display.var.567394.0.patients_being_held_to_ransom_by_surgery.php

Patients being 'held to ransom' by surgery
By Hugh Christopher

Patients are being held to ransom' by having to pay a premium rate to call a
Borehamwood doctors surgery, it was claimed this week.

The Grove Medical Centre in Grove Road, has introduced a new telephone
number for its surgery with an 0870 prefix which charges 8p per minute -
significantly higher than a normal local call.

The surgery has agreed a deal with a phone company which, in return for
installing a new phone system free of charge, will take all the profits from
the calls for the first five years.

The surgery changed its number on Monday, January 24 and the decision has
been met with a raft of complaints.

David Endacott, the deputy chairman of the Borehamwood branch of Pensioners'
Rights, said: "I think it's disgusting. "People ring the surgery when they
are in need and now they must pay eight pence a minute for every time they
are in need. These surgeries always keep you waiting on the line whether
they put you on hold or ask you to press this button or that button for the
service you need. The cost can really add up.

"It's not fair to do this, especially not to senior citizens. The money is
going into the coffers of the surgery which, to me, is not what the National
Health Service is about. We are being held to ransom."

Dr Andrew Schiapira, a partner at the surgery, said: "I can sympathise with
people who don't want to pay. What they must understand is there just isn't
enough money in primary care at the moment and this is something we have to
do. It's not a decision we have taken lightly."

The decision to change the number was taken after the patients encountered
long delays with the previous line which also would have been
non-transferable when the surgery moves to its new home at the Boulevard 25
shopping park.

Dr Schiapira said: "The key advantages of this new system is that calls are
answered faster, the patients are put on hold less and due to additional
phone lines coming into the surgery, patients are less likely to encounter
the engaged tone.

"After our current deal with the company has expired and the system has been
paid for, we will look at returning it to a local call rate," said Dr
Schiapira.

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Dave
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #11 - Feb 4th, 2005 at 1:51pm
 
So if these numbers are banned, does this mean that the NHS will owe these private companies money for lost 'earnings'? Will the GPs be happy to pay this out of their own back pocket, as Dr Schiapira said is that their is not enough money around at the moment?
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #12 - Feb 4th, 2005 at 2:06pm
 
Quote:
So if these numbers are banned, does this mean that the NHS will owe these private companies money for lost 'earnings'? Will the GPs be happy to pay this out of their own back pocket, as Dr Schiapira said is that their is not enough money around at the moment?
Note that Dr Schiapira chooses his words carefully - "we will look at returning it to a local call rate" - the key word here is "rate" - this implies to me that they could move to 0845 which is also a rip-off number but not quite to the same extent as 0870. I can only conclude that the Dr fully understands the abuse of the numbering system and the exploitation of the public. Shame on him!
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #13 - Feb 4th, 2005 at 2:16pm
 
Quote:
Note that Dr Schiapira chooses his words carefully - "we will look at returning it to a local call rate" - the key word here is "rate" - this implies to me that they could move to 0845 which is also a rip-off number but not quite to the same extent as 0870. ...

So it's OK to use 0870 for five years, then after that they'll look at it again! Roll Eyes

It shows the scale of the thing. That's 300 surgeries agreeing to this for five years. So take the amount of calls a surgery receives in a year and multiply by 1,500. Multiply this by something in the region of 3p to 4p, and you get a very rough idea how much NEG is profiting!!  Angry
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Re: GP 0870 numbers could be banned
Reply #14 - Feb 4th, 2005 at 2:26pm
 
Here's some of the marketing garbage on NEG's website. I like the "0870 numbers portray a professional company image" quote at the end - to me, 0870 numbers portray a company that doesn't give a toss about me.

>>>

“Why not take the challenge, if we can’t save you money on your business calls we’ll pay you £100 — No strings attached”NEG’s Account Managers can address the need to save money in a variety of ways.
In the first instance, our tariffs are set to demonstrate outstanding value for money without any compromise in call quality. Secondly, we will look at you call profile and offer a more creative solution that won’t just save you 10% on your current provider but could save you 50% by routing calls in a different way. Changing your usage pattern and the use of non-geographic numbers can significantly reduce call and overall costs.
We offer 24-hour support and we monitor all lines for leakage, fraud and mismanagement. Call data is provided by email on 25th of every month, on time every time, in a format that is tailored to your needs so that it will be of genuine use.
If your company receives 30 calls per hour, we'll pay you over £3,900 per annum… sounds to good to be true?By allocating your company an 0870 non-geographic number we'll pay you 2 pence per minute for every inbound call you receive. No strings attached, cash back every month, just see how the figures add up:
30 x calls per hour based on an average duration of 3 minutes per call = £1.80 per hour or £16.20 per day, based on 9 working hours per day x 21 working days per month = £340 per month or over £3,900 per annum.
Additional benefits:
Works in conjunction with your current number
0870 numbers are portable should your company move
0870 numbers have inbuilt disaster recovery which automatically diverts the caller to a pre-set number in the event of line or system failure
0870 numbers are charged at the National Call Rate
0870 numbers portray a professional company image as used by British Airways, Sky, Barclays Bank, Virgin and many more.
We have a list of golden numbers to choose from, just click here for an information pack.
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