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Surgeries charge more for calling (Read 176,980 times)
Keith
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #120 - Oct 23rd, 2008 at 11:56am
 
Does anyone have any feedback (SilentCallVictim?) on when the DofH are going to finish their review of the use of 0844 numbers by surgeries? From memory they started in Feb/March and planned to report by the end of March so it is one hell of an overrun! It beggars belief it could take this long.

I did email them on 2 occasions and got stock email replies which I challenged to little effect. I can never understand why these stock replies are sent out (after weeks of waiting for a reply) which don't actual address the questions being asked. Do these people not realise that these sort of replies actually cause a hugely more annoyance.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #121 - Oct 23rd, 2008 at 1:12pm
 
Keith wrote on Oct 23rd, 2008 at 11:56am:
Does anyone have any feedback ... ?

There was reference to this matter in the debate on Access to Primary Care in parliament last Thursday (see reply #149).

I hope that the extended period has been caused by genuine attempts to work out the detail of a solution to help those who are trapped in lengthy contracts. If the DH is to offer financial support for surgeries, and other NHS providers, who wish to take advantage of advanced telephone systems (to replace that presently being provided by patients) then this could take some time. Such a system would perhaps also have to made available to those who are not yet using Surgery Line or similar systems.

Members can be assured that there is a continuing flow of correspondence between the DH and many who are concerned about this matter. It is unfortunate that Ministers and senior officials cannot engage in meaningful correspondence with citizens on matters such as this. They are however answerable to parliament, and many MPs are sufficiently engaged to press this matter on behalf of their constituents.

I will always post about significant developments in this forum. As this forum is open to the public, I do not give a blow-by-blow account of all campaigning activity.
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Keith
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #122 - Oct 25th, 2008 at 10:27am
 
Thanks David,

If you can pass on any info on a private basis I would be grateful. You have done so before to me so you can rest assured anything that is not for public consumption will not be broadcast in a public forum. It would be useful. As you know I have been doing a little at a local level with a little success and also a little direct to the DofH (with no success!).

I have to say I find it rather galling if GPs who have entered into these contracts and have gained from them are bailed out, and time is wasted bailing them out, whilst patients on very limited income are still disadvantaged and GPs who refuse to take out these contracts see that those who are greedy don't lose out by their actions. I am aware of Doctors who very much oppose the use of these 0844 numbers and it doesn't pass on much of a message to them if there greedy colleagues are rescued from their contracts.

As a businessman I take decisions; some work and some don't. I don't expect to be rescued from my bad ones. And there was plenty of evidence at the time for the the GPs who took out these contracts that they shouldn't be doing so and they should have thought about that when negotiating their contracts.

If all Doctors are given funds to fund advanced switchboards that is just additional revenue. It should be funded out of current revenue as is the rest of their expenditure.

I write as someone married to a Doctor!
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #123 - Oct 25th, 2008 at 11:47am
 
I only deal privately with particular issues raised by members when the necessary detail would be inappropriate in the forum. I also discuss campaigning tactics in confidence, where it may not be appropriate to share this discussion with those whose interests may be damaged if they were successful.

Readers need not fear that anything of significance is not either posted here or covered in detail on my campaign resource website.

Keith wrote on Oct 23rd, 2008 at 11:56am:
... I did email them on 2 occasions and got stock email replies which I challenged to little effect.

I cannot number the briefing messages that I have sent to MPs, Ministers, the media and others. Many of them produce no recognisable meaningful response; however there is an attritional effect. After receiving many messages which prompted no acknowledgement, journalists and MPs have contacted me when a particular issue hits the spot and thanked me for the previous briefings that I have been providing.


There are two good reasons for not publishing everything here, apart from concerns about confidentiality.

Firstly, some campaigning efforts may not be seen to be effective. This discourages other campaigners and invites criticism which may not be helpful. I prefer to wait to report any positive effect, rather than reporting the action that may have caused it.

Secondly, we are seeking to prompt action and changes of policy by Ministers and public officials. Nobody likes to admit that they have changed their mind - "made a U-turn". This is especially true if the change could be seen to have been prompted by an informal and not properly representative pressure group or just a handful of individuals. We must present our sound and strong arguments, both publicly and privately, however we may have to forego the satisfaction of talking full credit for what we may achieve, as seeking to do so by presenting evidence of our efforts may actually deny achievement of success.

Apologies if this sounds a little convoluted, perhaps I could have expressed it more clearly.
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Keith
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #124 - Oct 25th, 2008 at 2:34pm
 
Just to clarify (although I'm sure you are aware) when I referred to "email on 2 occasions" that wasn't just 2 emails but referring to 2 occasions when I was was in detailed correspondence, each set of correspondences being numerous emails. Much of which was very frustrating, having laid out a detailed set of enquiries only to get the specifics ignored and getting unrelated stock replies.

Also apologies for the grammar - I do know the difference between 'their' and 'there' honestly!
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leedslad
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #125 - Nov 25th, 2008 at 11:13pm
 
The debate on this issue seems to have gone quiet of late....

I have been undertaking a bit of detective work with my local surgery. Trying to get any alternative numbers to the 0844 rip off one from  surgery staff has met with the usual lies. Having had to visit the surgery a few times recently my roving eye noticed one or two telephone numbers on the wall in a couple of doctor's rooms.
My surgery has around 6 doctors and many other associated services on site. The information available which I have seen on the walls and trial and error has lead me to the following information:

the telephone system is an 'IP Office set up'. This would appear to be an IP system with voicemail

there are approximately 40 'extensions' on the system which each extension having a two digit number

only the doctors have DDI numbers with a standard 'local' area code. Therefore there are 6 of these which run consecutively

from random dialing many  numbers around this block there would appear to be a group of around 300 numbers possibly allocated to this type of use (I'm assuming that because the lines ring dead that they are reserved for this type of use). Outside this block the numbers are heavily in use on the local exchange

the adjacent numbers outside the block are primarily are run by BT

there would appear at the moment to be no DDI numbers for the most important area i.e. appointments and general enquiries. The lists I have seen on the walls show the DDI for the doctors but no alternative for appointments etc. The internal extension number for the GP bears no relation to the number used for the DDI

however there are a further two DDI numbers which do not have voicemail and continually ring out any time of the day or night. I have tried to call these two during office hours and never get a reply

I have also random dialed several of the other block numbers to see if they may belong to another surgery in the area also using Surgeryline, but no luck

the fax number has remained on the old system which was set up by the PCT and had many thousands of extensions. All the former direct numbers have been withdrawn save the fax number. I've tried random dialling these but only get other doctors surgeries

From this information I'm hoping that someone will have enough knowledge to try and crack the puzzle in obtaining other numbers.

Any ideas?......
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #126 - Nov 25th, 2008 at 11:52pm
 
leedslad wrote on Nov 25th, 2008 at 11:13pm:
The debate on this issue seems to have gone quiet of late....

There is nothing to debate, it is recognised that funding NHS services from patients is fundamentally unacceptable. Attempts to disguise what is happening have been defeated. It is now a question of what is to be done to correct the situation and allow GPs to use SurgeryLine and other systems that patients may want, but funded properly. (Whether callers would rather wait in a queue and have lots of options or call again when receptionists are busy is a matter for each surgery and its patients to sort out.)

Since the summer the focus has been on Ben Bradshaw (and Alan Johnson) who have received the results of an evidence gathering exercise and will be responding at some point. If radical action is to be taken, as it would need to be, this would take some time to prepare. It appears however that they are just playing for time. I hope not, but I have no way of knowing.

Pressure for action is continuing to be applied in parliament, as reported in the forum. Only yesterday, Ben Bradshaw gave a familiar answer to a written question - see Hansard.

Attempts to undermine use of revenue sharing numbers by discovering and publishing alternatives may be successful, and experience gained here may be valuable in understanding what may be achieved in other cases. In the case of the NHS, we have an acceptance that use of revenue sharing numbers is fundamentally wrong. It should therefore be possible to win this battle by addressing the issues directly. We will have to wait a little longer to see if a victory is imminent.
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NGMsGhost
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #127 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 6:52pm
 
I think that all leedslad actually wanted is the help of someone like Dave to explain which other number ranges he might try and search for a geographic alternative in.  I don't think he is that interested in the Machiavellian obfuscation of Ben Bradshaw and other New Labour ministers who repeatedly express crocodile tiers of public concern about this matter while doing absolutely nothing to ban the root cause of the problem (namely their total failure to impose satisfactory rules on this matter controlling all NHS GP Contractors use of phone numbers and having retroactive effect).

However as this is a voip system it is highly likely that the calls for the appointments line are routed directly to the appointments phones by voip from the 0844 number and that there is no final geographic number to which the calls are translated.  NEG clearly anticipated the widespread public dislike of their shystery deals with GPs and so deliberately set out to create a system on which this site could not offer any geographic alternatives. Shocked Sad Smiley
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jrawle
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #128 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 8:42pm
 
Another issue that I've raised before is that often, where a surgery's number has been replaced with 0844 and the previous number disabled, many references on the web, in printed phonebooks, etc. will show the old phone number. As this is no longer available, I consider this to be highly dangerous, as it may mean a patient is unable to contact the doctor if these are the only information sources they have to hand.

If you move house or business premises, you'd have the post redirected for a year or two. If a business was introducing an 08 number for genuine (non-revenue-generating) reasons, they would keep the old number live for a year or two to ensure callers could always get through until new phonebooks have been issued and the old ones thrown out. Of course, we know why this doesn't happen. It just shows the surgeries do not have their patients' interests in mind in the slightest.

Anyone who's being forced to use an 0844 to call the doctors' could try pointing this out to them. Claim you looked in a phonebook or used Google to find the number, then were unable to get through.
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sherbert
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #129 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 9:11pm
 
My surgery has a recorded message telling you to dial the 08 number.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #130 - Nov 26th, 2008 at 9:39pm
 
We do not want to start constructing reasons for those who have gone over to 0844 to stay there for ever, by suggesting that changing their telephone number would show a disregard for the interests of their patients. There will always be records of old numbers, my London surgery has been through 01- and 0181- as well as a change to a new set of 020 geographic number in fairly recent times.

If our campaigning efforts are successful, we will be causing patients now on 0844 to have to cope with a second change in a relatively short period. This would apply whether it would involve reverting to an old geographic number (not necessarily the same one, as some group surgeries have merged their telephone systems) or swapping the "8" for a "3".

In my experience, the numbers that have been replaced by Surgery Line have all had change announcements on.  We must be careful only to criticise only that which is definitely wrong, otherwise we risk undermining our own position.
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jrawle
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #131 - Nov 27th, 2008 at 10:25am
 
The case I was thinking of was the Clarendon Park Medical Centre in Leicester, which was mentioned before. If you Google that, you'll still find almost exclusively the 0116 number. I've just tried that number and it gives the BT-style error beeps followed by the message "This number does not accept incoming calls" then cuts off! No message giving an alternate number. So as I said, it's not good if you needed to call the doctor in a hurry.

No-one's suggesting they should stay on 0844 forever, rather that they should continue to accept calls on the old 01 numbers. Also, even if they switched back to a geographical number, they could keep the non-geographical number working while it's slowly phased out.

Perhaps you should try not to tell people what they should discuss so often. Not everyone's interested in joining some sort of campaign group. Some of us prefer simply to discuss numbers and help others when they ask queries, rather than jump on them for not wading through the masses of information and poor site navigation...
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #132 - Nov 27th, 2008 at 10:55am
 
Fair points, I stand corrected.

I was not aware of the reference to the specific case referred to and feared that a general case against number changes was being made. In the light of the on-going Department of Health investigation it appears that the number of surgeries switching to 0844 has slowed. He hope at the least that this will cease altogether, so it will be a question of what happens to those that have already switched. It is indeed imperative that proper arrangements are made to deal with a change of number.

The arrangement described seem to be wholly unacceptable, regardless of the reason for the number change.

Apart from the 999 emergency service which will not be affected, there are new approaches being considered for those who need to access NHS urgently.
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jrawle
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #133 - Nov 27th, 2008 at 11:31am
 
For my part, I didn't make any reference to the specific case I knew of, which came up a while ago (possibly not even in this thread?) Of course, I should have realised many surgeries will have recorded messages with the new number. So my suggestion to leedslad and others only applies if their surgery's number is like the one in Leicester.

As for accessing the NHS (and I know I'm going off topic here), why can't they enable the 03 alternative for NHS Direct? 0345 4647 is an even catchier number, and as 0345 numbers are reserved for the 0845 equivalent, it isn't as if any numbers in the 0345 46 range could ever be allocated for anything else. Once again, the 0845 number would of course need to be kept operational for the reason we've been discussing!
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Surgeries charge more for calling
Reply #134 - Nov 27th, 2008 at 8:30pm
 
The issue of 0345 4647 has been covered elsewhere. To summarise, this number is ready for use, however action to adopt it is currently on hold pending wider decisions about what to do about a number for access to urgent (but non-emergency) NHS and social care.

Recent revelations about the cost involved in providing the NHS Direct telephone advice and information service (each call costs the NHS more than a GP appointment, before adding back the subsidy provided by callers) have caused some to question whether it should be continued at all. If a new number is required (as it must be) then the cost of publicising this could be seen as throwing good money after bad.

We await the announcement that has been promised before the end of the year.
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