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Sick paying £5 to see a GP (Read 11,957 times)
idb
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Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Apr 30th, 2005 at 4:47pm
 
Source: http://www.shropshirestar.com/show_article.php?aID=32523

The Sick and elderly at a Shropshire doctors' surgery have had to pay up to £5 to book an appointment because it has switched to a premium 0870 number, councillors have heard.

The surgery, at Much Wenlock, has made the switch in a move to increase efficiency, allowing callers to get through more easily rather than always hearing the engaged tone.

But that has angered patients who say they are sometimes left on hold and charged up to £5 on their phone bills to book an appointment.

The surgery, at Kingsway Lodge, in King Street, has told the town council people do not have to pay more to get through. It has also installed an additional "lo-call" number so that people can make calls without having to pay so much.

Today the surgery was closed and calls were being diverted to operators.

Much Wenlock Town Council was told on Thursday that many people wanted the surgery to return to its previous system to prevent spiralling costs. Councillor Derek Hill said: "I know of somebody who rang the doctors and it cost them £5 for the call."

The town council plans to invite representatives of the surgery to discuss the issue and try to resolve it.

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flaglady
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #1 - Apr 30th, 2005 at 7:07pm
 
Hardly surprising that this GP was "not available". He/she should hang his/her head in shame!
I've been a nurse for 46 years and this kind of thing makes me ashamed to admit to it.
Bring back the real NHS! Angry
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juby
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #2 - Apr 30th, 2005 at 10:02pm
 
But less than 1% have complained about the number!

How do I know? Because NEG said so.

juby
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gbtillies
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Quietly does it.........

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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #3 - May 4th, 2005 at 9:37am
 
Could this be their number?


Kingsway Lodge Surgery King Street
Much Wenlock Shropshire TF13 6BL
Tel: (01952 727356)

Can we send it to the newspaper?

Found it through this link:

http://www.locallife.co.uk/telford/doctors3.asp
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Ricardo
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #4 - May 23rd, 2005 at 11:55pm
 
I wrote to this practice recently asking various questions under the FOI act and have received a reply, which is a “Public Interest Refusal Notice” on two of the questions, which were:
    1. What is your current underlying geographic telephone number?
    2. What income do you and/or the telephone system company derive from non-geographic calls on 0870 and 0844?
The reasons given for this were as follows.
    1. “The release of the underlying phone number could confuse patients, as they would then have two different numbers on which to contact the practice.”
    2. “The release of the number and/or the income derived from the provider may cause the practice to breach its contract, potentially subjecting the practice to legal action.”

They then go on to say “The practice does not make any profit from the telephone system or use of the number. This is prohibited by directions issued by the Secretary of State for Health. Should the income from calls exceed the cost of the system rental, the funds are used to renew equipment within the practice” Surely this is a contradiction as they are going to use the income to offset the system rental and also put any surplus towards renewing equipment?

They also go on to say “With regard to patients calling from overseas, we have to-date received phone calls from abroad since using the 0870 and 0844 numbers, none of which had reported any problems getting through. However as part of NEG’s focus on customer service and as 0844 numbers are not currently supported worldwide, an alternative number has now been issued in order that patients may always contact the surgery when travelling abroad.” Again this contradicts their earlier statement about “confusing the patients,” and they do not say what this number is or where it is displayed.

I intend to write to them again to request this number for overseas use and to say that their first refusal reason is pathetic. Would they be in breach of their contract to release the geographic number or are they trying to hide behind this statement in the hope that I won’t push them on it? Would a letter to the Information Commissioner be justified now or should I have another go to see if they will release the number? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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idb
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #5 - May 24th, 2005 at 12:26am
 
You need to ask for what is known as an "internal review" before appealing to the Information Commissioner. In requesting an internal review, you may wish to include the additional points you have set out above. With regards to termination from overseas, the only numbers that are (virtually) guaranteed to be available from anywhere are those that begin 01 or 02. Anything beginning 07, 08 or 09 may or may not work from overseas; the important point is that there is an element of uncertainty, and for something as potentially important as being able to contact a medical service, uncertainty is not desirable, irrespective of the requirements of the NEG shysters/extortionists. The public interest refusal is laughable - I strongly suggest a request for a review, and if that does not work, then go to the IC. The more and more complaints made, FOI requests and appeals to the IC, the more it costs the users of the rip-off numbers. Their ill-gained profits from rip-off numbers will soon begin to erode due to administrative costs in responding to FOI requests etc.
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Ricardo
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #6 - May 25th, 2005 at 11:37pm
 
I will be writing back to them shortly to find out what the number is for overseas patients and how they let patients know that this number exists. Its not on their letter heads so I hope it is displayed prominently in the surgery. I shall also be asking for an internal review though I suspect this will just be a rehash of what has already been said. If they are going to use "breach of contract" as an excuse then we will never get the GN number, and it rather defeats the purpose of the FOI act.
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Ricardo
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #7 - Jul 14th, 2005 at 10:47pm
 
I have received a reply to my request for an internal review. They are refusing to reveal the geographic number on the basis that the exemption for commercial interest applies. They also add that the number is owned by the provider (NEG) who are not covered by the FOI act and are not obliged to provide the information. Does anyone know if this statement is correct, are suppliers to the NHS not covered?

On the point of overseas callers they state that NEG are aware of the problem with 0844 numbers and as such have added an extra number for this use. Guess what 0870!! I have spoken to NEG who have said that they know of no 0870 number that will not work from abroad and were told this by their number provider Opal Telecom. On speaking to Opal I got the same response. Does anyone have definite knowledge of 0870 numbers not working from certain countries for me to give as examples?

They also stated that they had an article printed in local publications detailing the introduction of the system, thus giving advance notification of the change and the opportunity to make comments. Apparently no one did so. I expect the article was tucked away in a corner and that peoples comments would not have made any difference as the change was already underway.

I have obviously rattled their cage as they finished the letter by saying that their time would be better served looking after their patients.

I shall write back to them telling them I intend to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

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OFFSHORERADIO
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #8 - Jul 15th, 2005 at 5:17am
 
HI Ricardo


"I have spoken to NEG who have said that they know of no 0870 number that will not work from abroad and were told this by their number provider Opal Telecom. On speaking to Opal I got the same response. Does anyone have definite knowledge of 0870 numbers not working from certain countries for me to give as examples?"

Yes the poor folk outside the UK that could not call the 0870 number given by the met police after the london bombs.

There are lots of examples in the thead here "London Blasts - Using 0870 as Emergency Number"  about this, also the fact 0870 could not be called from outside the UK made it to the papers and TV.

I thought that the Dept of Heath had banned the use of 0870 in england by NHS G.P's or maybe that rule does not apply to calls inbound from outside the UK

It might be worth contacting the Dept of Heath to get their opinion.

For what it is worth I think NEG are scum to try to make money like this from the sick.

Dave
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« Last Edit: Jul 15th, 2005 at 5:28am by OFFSHORERADIO »  
 
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idb
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #9 - Jul 15th, 2005 at 12:27pm
 
Quote:
HI Ricardo


"I have spoken to NEG who have said that they know of no 0870 number that will not work from abroad and were told this by their number provider Opal Telecom. On speaking to Opal I got the same response. Does anyone have definite knowledge of 0870 numbers not working from certain countries for me to give as examples?"
Just quote what Ofcom, the UK regulator, has to say about the termination of international calls to NGNs:

"Ofcom is aware that callers may experience difficulty in accessing UK
non-geographic numbers from outside the UK. This results from uncertainties
over financial returns for routing between international operators caused by
the variable cost of calls and imbalances between charges that can be
retained or passed on through international arbitrage. UK residents dialing
the non-geographic numbers of other countries from the UK frequently
experience the same or similar problems. Individual countries do not
normally permit access to non-geographic numbers from overseas. This is
because these services are differently priced from geographic services and
it is impossible for an operator in the originating country (which in many
cases may not be transmitting the international part of the call) to know
what the appropriate price and for the correct amount to be passed via
several carriers and be paid to the terminating operator. "

This should be sufficient for NEG and Opal, however as they are scammers, they won't listen.

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Dave
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #10 - Jul 15th, 2005 at 4:19pm
 
Quote:
... I have spoken to NEG who have said that they know of no 0870 number that will not work from abroad and were told this by their number provider Opal Telecom. On speaking to Opal I got the same response. ...

So Network Europe Group Plc do not have their own network? So they 'buy in' the services? Why? The only answer I can think of is that it is because they can get away with it!

The company is probably full of accountants and marketing people who wouldn't know the first thing about engineering a telephone system. From what you say, it looks as though it's all figures and statistics to them and how they can make them look good!
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Ricardo
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Re: Sick paying £5 to see a GP
Reply #11 - Jul 15th, 2005 at 11:55pm
 
I was aware of the various statements made about overseas callers with regard to the London bombings. What I was hoping for was for some of the overseas forum members to say that they could not ring 0870 numbers and state which country they are in. This would give even more defimite proof. Obviously I have also got the Ofcom response to use.

As for NEG, the person I spoke to was going to check about the 0870 numbers to see if anyone else knew different and was due to call me back. So far no return call.
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