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NHS premium & national rate phone lines ban (Read 140,810 times)
BexTech
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NHS premium & national rate phone lines ban
Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:35am
 
NHS organisations will be banned from setting up new premium and national rate telephone numbers for patients contacting local services.
GP practices currently using national rate phone lines will be expected to switch to low rate numbers.

The move, which comes into effect from April, was announced on Thurdsay by Health Minister John Hutton.

Full details: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4293789.stm
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jrawle
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #1 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:45am
 
But it says they will be allowed to use 0845 or 0844 numbers. Can we expect some of the lines to switch to (for example) 0844 49 numbers (5p per min at all times - actually more expensive than 0870 in the evening or weekends!)
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Percy
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #2 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 11:51am
 
So, NEG (who have bought numerous 0844 numbers in advance of this 'ban') win!

The 0844 numbers they will use will cost 5p per minute (at all times) to call and are therefore 66% MORE EXPENSIVE than a national rate call on BT (3p per minute during the day).

The 0870 numbers currently used cost from 7p to 10p per minute to call depending on the service provider the caller is using - at least 133% more expensive than a national rate call on BT (3p per minute during the day).

In fact, for those of us usiing 18866 to make any 01 or 02 call at any time for a total of 1p, the reduction to having to pay 5p per minute will be still be yet another stealth tax.

Roll on May 5th.
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Dave
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #3 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 2:52pm
 
More here from to Department of Health and here from Number 10.
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idb
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #4 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 3:04pm
 
All that has happened is that one scam, 0870, has been replaced with another - 0844. The DOH simply doesn't "get it". Why can't these public servants understand this issue - it isn't *that* complex. 084 or 087 mean callers, nearly always, pay more. What should happen now is:

*Once 0844 is introduced, use FOI to request geographic equivalent;
*Point out to DOH that 0844 termination from overseas is difficult and often impossible and yes, people do contact GPs from abroad, and in certain circumstances, the inability to get through could have severe consequences;
*Get as much media exposure as possible, explain that people are still being ripped-off;
*Use the call-box rip-off aspect - this could be a useful tool to get rid of 0844;
*Keep campaigning against rip-off merchants such as NEG.
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Percy
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #5 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 4:41pm
 
The Department of Health's e-mail address is dhmail@doh.gsi.gov.uk.
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« Last Edit: Feb 24th, 2005 at 4:42pm by bill »  
 
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Dave
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #6 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 7:51pm
 
In addition to idb's points above:
  • Weekend and evening rates to NEG's 0844 numbers will cost more than 0870. This will generate them extra revenue at those times.
  • The 0844 numbers cost more to call from BT Payphones than 0870.
  • Those on inclusive call packages will always have to pay to call these numbers.
  • Some people, especially the elderly, may be confused by having to remember a new 11 digit number.
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BexTech
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #7 - Feb 24th, 2005 at 8:11pm
 
As soon as jrawle highlighted the fact that they would be using 0844 or 0845 I emailed The Department of Health.

I think we need to ensure they are fully aware.
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lompos
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #8 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 10:35am
 
Now that the DoH has banned 0870 numbers for GPs but suggested that 0845 and 0844 numbers would be allowed, the tack should be changed.

GPs have until April to get rid of their 0870 numbers. They may have been duped by NEG but after all the publicity they probably have some understanding of the issues involved by now.  Pressure should be brought to bear on them revert to their old geographical numbers rather than change to 0845 or 0844.

0844 numbers are a jungle, call rates vary from 0.5p to 5p/min depending on what digits follow 0844.  There is little doubt that those GPs who signed up with NEG will try to use numbers with the top 5p/min rate at any time rate.

Apart from the cost there are two important concerns with 0845 and 0844 numbers:

1.
0870, 0845 or 0844 numbers cannot be called from a number of countries. Even from countries from which they can, not all telecom service providers are able to route these calls. This means that doctors attending to people who may have been involved in an accident or suffer illness while abroad may not be able to contact the person's GP.  The lack of access to medical records could be damaging or even life threatening to the patient concerned.   

2.
Patients, especially old people, on small fixed incomes may not have their own phone lines and may be forced to use payphones. Calls from payphones to a geographic 01 or 02 number cost 30p for 15 minutes.  An 8 minute call to an 0844 top rate number would cost £1.22 from a payphone.

For the record, BT payphone charges are:

01 or 02 numbers: 30p for 15 minutes

0845 and 0870 numbers: 10p connection charge + 10p for every 55 seconds

for the top rate 0844 numbers, e.g. 084441, 0844441, 0844443: 10p connection charge + 13.9p/min

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juby
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #9 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 11:20am
 
A report in today's Daily Telegraph headed "Doctors' premium rates phone line banned"...... 

I quote an excerpt: "The ban will also apply to NHS dentists, opticians and out of hours GP services.

Around £500 will be provided to practises that have to switch to lower rate numbers".

Bludy 'ell!  They are being paid for being greedy now!

Sad

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jrawle
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #10 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 11:48am
 
Quote:
2.
Patients, especially old people, on small fixed incomes may not have their own phone lines and may be forced to use payphones. Calls from payphones to a geographic 01 or 02 number cost 30p for 15 minutes.  An 8 minute call to an 0844 top rate number would cost £1.22 from a payphone.

For the record, BT payphone charges are:

01 or 02 numbers: 30p for 15 minutes

0845 and 0870 numbers: 10p connection charge + 10p for every 55 seconds

for the top rate 0844 numbers, e.g. 084441, 0844441, 0844443: 10p connection charge + 13.9p/min


I'm not sure the payphone argument is such a strong one. If it's a call to book an appointment, it might only last a minute, so this could cost 20p on a non-geographical number, compared to 30p for a geographical call.

In this instance, the real rip-off is the BT payphone tariff. They claim 30p for 15 minutes is a good deal, while knowing very well that the vast majority of calls from payphones last less than a minute. It was the change in pricing of payphones that finally made me decide it's worth getting a mobile phone!

But if they do change to 0844, the increase in cost from payphones is certainly significant.
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« Last Edit: Feb 25th, 2005 at 11:49am by jrawle »  
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kk
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #11 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 12:02pm
 
Re above

"0844 numbers are a jungle ........"

I agree, but Mr Chapman, of NEG, said he would use, in the future, the 5p/min range of 0844 numbers.  That is 5p/min at all times - 24 hours a day - 7 days a week.

Compared to the maximum cost universal - all UK destinations -  BT call rate from a residential phone of 3p/min, a call to a Doctor using an  NEG system (0844) will cost at least 66% more than a patient using a normal geographical number.

A call to a 0844 number from a payphone has an astronomical premium of over  900% compared to telephoning a 01 or 02 number from a pay phone; and even cost more than telephoning a 0845/0970 number, which are bad enough at over 700%.

Previously, with 0870 numbers NEG and doctors made patients pay at least an extra 133% premium.

The “new improved scheme” using 0844 numbers, NEG and doctors will make patients pay at least an extra 66% premium.  In some cases calls to 0844 cost more than to 0870 number.

The 0870 scam has been exposed.  The government’s solution is to substitute it with another scam and pretend that the “new improved scheme” (or should this be “new improved scam” plus £500 bonus for the doctors from the taxpayer) is just the same as a so called “local rate” call.

Remember the new rule: 3p = 5p (George Orwell and all that…)


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lompos
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #12 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 12:32pm
 
Today jrawle wrote:

I'm not sure the payphone argument is such a strong one. If it's a call to book an appointment, it might only last a minute, so this could cost 20p on a non-geographical number, compared to 30p for a geographical call.

From personal experience: a short while ago I called my GP on his new 0870 number and for 8 minutes I was listening alternately to music and a recorded message without the receptionist answering.  After 8 minutes I put the phone down
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Cruz
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #13 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 1:01pm
 
Quote:
Today jrawle wrote:

From personal experience: a short while ago I called my GP on his new 0870 number and for 8 minutes I was listening alternately to music and a recorded message without the receptionist answering.  After 8 minutes I put the phone down

That's impossible - as NEG's own statements prove:

The 0870 number is simply a mechanism that enables them to fund a state of the art switch board offering a better service for patients and reduced waiting times,” explains Richard Chapman, CEO of NEG.

“Before a practice introduces the 0870 number, patients may find it almost impossible to get through at peak times of the day because the phone is permanently engaged.

After installation of the system, the patient can always get through, and is actually able to halve the amount of time that they spend on the phone to their surgery.  The 0870 number actually saves the patient both time and money.”


For those of a confused disposition, the purple text above is an estract from an article online in 'The Country Doctor'.  Most will realise it's taken almost word-for-word from one of NEG's spin documents - one of Alistair Campbell's contributions perhaps?
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« Last Edit: Feb 27th, 2005 at 11:04pm by Cruz »  
 
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juby
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Re: NHS premium & national rate phone lines ba
Reply #14 - Feb 25th, 2005 at 1:42pm
 
???
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