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NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers (Read 163,581 times)
Dave
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #30 - Sep 18th, 2008 at 6:41pm
 
Source: Leicester Mercury

http://www.thisisleicestershire.co.uk/news/Anger-hospitals-0844-number/article-3...

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.
>>
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Tanllan
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #31 - 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?
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irrelevant
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #32 - 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...
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #33 - 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."
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After years of ignoring govt. guidelines & RIPPING OFF Council Tax payers using 0845 numbers, Essex County Council changed to 0345 numbers on 2 November 2015
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Dave
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #34 - 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/...
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #35 - 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.
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Keith
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #36 - 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.....
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #37 - 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. Wink Shocked Angry

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. Shocked Roll Eyes

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. Angry
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #38 - 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.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #39 - 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-3...
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 ...

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.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #40 - Sep 28th, 2008 at 10:34pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:


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.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #41 - Oct 1st, 2008 at 1:03am
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:


Further coverage here: Trust ditches 0844 number
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #42 - 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.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #43 - 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.
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« Last Edit: Oct 2nd, 2008 at 12:07am by SilentCallsVictim »  
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: NHS hospitals on 0844 rip-off numbers
Reply #44 - Oct 12th, 2008 at 11:48am
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 27th, 2008 at 2:11am:

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