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Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consultation (Read 197,048 times)
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #135 - Sep 14th, 2009 at 11:35am
 
It's all hand-waving and no action!

The published results of the consultation exercise clearly states "A total of 87% of all public respondents agreed that 084 number should be banned."  So where's the ban?

Para 3 of the DoH response is the key:

"The ban on the use of numbers charging patients a premium rate to call NHS services will allow a marketplace to evolve where 084 numbers compete alongside 01, 02 and 03 numbers, but where patients will pay no more than the cost of a local call. The ban means that GPs and other NHS organisations remain free to use 084 numbers, providing patients are not charged more than a local rate number. "

What do they mean by a "marketplace"?  Are we going to have a choice of using an 084, 01, 02 or 03 number when we call our GP or health centre?

Unless of course this is a sneaky way to prevent the use of revenue-sharing numbers without having to go up against the entrenched forces of the GPs by an outright ban, simply by allowing the public a right to veto the introduction or retention of an 084 number by saying "I can't ring your 084 number at a local-rate charge from my mobile-phone or VoIP phone service".  Does that sound likely?
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #136 - Sep 14th, 2009 at 1:16pm
 
It's just been one BBC News that the 0844 numbers will remain the same but the cost will be reduced to the local rate.


A quote from Dr Vautrey from the Yorkshire Evening Post:

http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Leeds-GP-welcomes-move-to.5643534.jp

Dr Vautrey said his surgery used an 0844 number but the company supplying it had assured the Government it cost no more than a local call.
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« Last Edit: Sep 14th, 2009 at 1:17pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #137 - Sep 14th, 2009 at 3:08pm
 
Dave wrote on Sep 14th, 2009 at 1:16pm:
Dr Vautrey said his surgery used an 0844 number but the company supplying it had assured the Government it cost no more than a local call.


I very much suspect that they are basing this on the announcement by BT that their charge for calling 01,02,03 numbers outside a package will go up to 5.25p per minute from 1st October.    This will mean that calls to geo numbers will then cost more than the 5.0p per minute(inc 17.5% Vat) for calling their 0844 number.

This is the facile attempt at deception and sleight of hand being played by O'Brien and his Department.   It won't wash as the public will not accept this get out.    O'Brien has stated that "The ban means that GPs and other NHS organisations remain free to use 084 numbers, providing patients are not charged more than local rate numbers ."   As said previously, most calls to geo numbers are now made by people with a package, using both landlines and mobiles, and the marginal cost, because they are pre-paid, is zero pence.    Under O'Brien's proposed scheme that price must be matched otherwise the Minister will be seen to have lied and this whole business has been about the minister wearing no clothes much like certain self deluded kings!! Grin
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« Last Edit: Sep 14th, 2009 at 3:08pm by loddon »  
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #138 - Sep 14th, 2009 at 5:20pm
 
Have just come home after being out all day & with no access to radio/TV/internet.  The BBC radio news this morning led me to believe it was a done deal & 0844s would be banned.   This "result" is appallingly disappointing and an absolute nonsense  as others here have said - how on earth can a GP, even if willing, control the costs charged by a teleco to each of his patients?   It is a stupid announcement made by those who choose not to understand the situation.  I suspect that what they mean is that as long as the notional cost per minute is no higher than a "local" (ie non-existent) call, that is OK no matter how many people pay more because of packages etc.  It is enough to make one cry!

Another worry is that I have just had a letter from this O'Brien man sent to me by my MP which is supposed to be reassuring over the genetic prscribing issue, I was going to forward it to Epilepsy Action but now wonder whether it is worth it as O'Brien is just someone who plays with words to bury his true meaning and obviously cannot be trusted.

Our GPs do not use 0844, thank goodness, but I would much rather redial than be held in a queue anyway, at least I can leave it a few minutes & call again, if you are in a queue you feel compelled to keep one's place or it could be even longer.   Last Friday, we needed to speak to a GP as a member of the family who was ill was getting worse rather than better, we were promised a call back, it did not materialise until about seven phone calls (& six hours!) later.   How much would that have cost us if our GPs did have an 0844 what with the endless menus etc?!

This situation is now even more of a disgrace than it was and shows this govt just thinks everyone else is really really stupid.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #139 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:21am
 
There has been some interesting media coverage of the announcement.

This is probably the best piece.
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:22am by SilentCallsVictim »  
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #140 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:45am
 
A report from Which?:

Which? scores a win on cost of calling your GP

http://www.which.co.uk/news/2009/09/which-scores-a-win-on-cost-of-calling-your-g...



Source: Politics.co.uk

http://www.politics.co.uk/news/health/doubts-remain-as-nhs-premium-rates-numbers...

<<
Doubts remain as NHS premium rates numbers scrapped
Monday, 14, Sep 2009 10:33
By Alex Stevenson

There are fears GPs could face a funding shortfall after the government's decision to abandon premium rate phone numbers for NHS organisations.

Ministers are committing to ensuring patients do not have to pay more than the cost of a local call - amid fears it will not be able to live up to the pledge.

[…]

"It is clear from the feedback we have received that patients support the banning of any number or tariff which is more expensive to call," Mr O'Brien said.

"For people on low incomes, and for those who need to contact their local doctor or hospital regularly, these costs can soon build up. We want to reassure the public that when they contact their local GP or hospital, the cost of their call will be no more expensive than if they had dialled a normal landline number."

This commitment, campaigner David Hickson claimed to politics.co.uk, is simply unrealistic.

"That's what they think they can say - they will shortly find out that is wrong. Or alternatively the minister will have to go back on his assurance," he said.

084 premium rate numbers charge a transmission fee significantly higher than normal calls, payable by the caller's telephone company to the telephone company managing the organisation with the 084 number.

Mr Hickson has conducted detailed research to show the extent of GPs within the NHS which rely on 084 numbers - an average of around ten per cent, although five have over 20 per cent.

After offsetting any charges, revenues from the premium rate numbers are shared between the company and the number-holder. GPs typically use the cash to finance the services they offer.

"If you are going to disallow a situation whereby patients and others pay more than the cost of a local call, you're dreaming if you think revenue-sharing can carry on," Mr Hickson explained.

[…]

>>



The DH's statement says:

3. The ban on the use of numbers charging patients a premium rate to call NHS services will allow a marketplace to evolve where 084 numbers compete alongside 01, 02 and 03 numbers, but where patients will pay no more than the cost of a local call. The ban means that GPs and other NHS organisations remain free to use 084 numbers, providing patients are not charged more than a local rate number.

6. The ban will be enforced through proposed changes to the GP contract (in consultation with the British Medical Association’s GP Committee), and the issuing of Directions to NHS PCTs and Trusts. These changes will be put in place as soon as practicable.


This suggests that GPs will be responsible for controlling the charges to their telephone numbers.


However, the BMA's statement says:

Changes to 084 number tariffs, which will ensure that patients who call them do not pay more than the equivalent cost of a local number, are the fairest way forward for patients and practices, the BMA said today (Monday 14 September 2009).

It doesn't look like GPs will be doing anything with the BMA passing the buck. Maybe the DH, Ofcom, the telephone companies or the tooth fairy will change the tariffs. Roll Eyes

So does this mean that there is a stalemate with no way of implementing the Minister's pledge?  Huh


The Minister said that there is strong feeling among patients for a ban and that changes will be made to ensure that they will be charged at no higher rate than a call to a normal landline number:

“We have been concerned that some people are paying more than the cost of a local call rate to contact the NHS.  It is clear from the feedback we have received that patients support the banning of any number or tariff which is more expensive to call.

“For people on low incomes, and for those who need to contact their local doctor or hospital regularly, these costs can soon build up. We want to reassure the public that when they contact their local GP or hospital, the cost of their call will be no more expensive than if they had dialled a normal landline number.”


So how will Mr O'Brien's pledge be delivered?
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:47am by Dave »  
 
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #141 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:21am
 
Dave wrote on Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:45am:
So how will Mr O'Brien's pledge be delivered?

By the issuing of a 'clarification' statement in a few weeks.

It will say, "What the minister meant was the cost would not be allowed to exceed the cost of a call to a normal 01 or 02 number from a residential BT landline for someone who does not have an all inclusive calls plan."

All of a sudden, those who have to use a callbox or mobile are forgotten.
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:21am by Heinz »  

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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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #142 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 10:40am
 
Heinz wrote on Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:21am:
All of a sudden, those who have to use a callbox or mobile are forgotten.


... also forgotten are those who subscibe to Virgin Media, or a call plan from any of the "BT clones" such as Talk Talk.

If this were to happen, the BT publicity - "sign up to a call plan, but that will mean you have to pay extra to call your GP", will be interesting.

I do not believe that it will happen as suggested as any discussion of points of detail will cause this situation, as it stands, to fall apart.


Unless there is something very clever that we do not know about yet, the DH and the BMA are still at loggerheads over this. They have each declared their negotiating positions.

The DH says - we don't care what number you use so long as it does not cost the caller more than the cost of an ordinary call. If you can find a number that meets that requirement, then you are free to use it and to keep your revenue share.

The BMA says - it's your job to protect our revenue share income and make the necessary arrangements with the telephone companies to ensure that the numbers we use are "local rate" like we were told, and as you confirmed in 2005.

The fault is in presenting these negotiating positions as if this were a solution, and in not having moved forward in 18 months.

N.B. In referring to the BMA, I do not mean those working in the 90% of surgeries who do not use revenue sharing numbers, nor the few hundred who apparently responded to the consultation suggesting that their own use of 084 numbers be banned (there is no specific figure, but if you do the maths it has to be around 300). I am referring to the chief negotiator from the General Practioner's Committee, who seems to be adopting a position that may not be shared by his members in general.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #143 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:48am
 
An interesting piece in the Cambridge News, although sadly it maintains the rubbish that tariffs will be adjusted:

http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/cn_news_home/DisplayArticle.asp?ID=448902


The reason the DH gave for not simply banning 084 numbers is because it believes that another premium number range may come into existance in the future and it may get used. Not if members of SAYNOTO0870.COM can help it!

What the DH should do is say to GPs, you can only use 01, 02 or 03 numbers. Should any new types of number come along in the future that are no more than a landline call for all, then they too could be added to the list.
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:48am by Dave »  
 
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #144 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:49pm
 
hello

this is my first post as I am enraged by this.

after trwaling through the BT website, it looks like it will be more expensive to call a normal number from a BT phone during the day (when the doctors are open) than ringing an 0844.

Please correct my maths if I am wrong.

call to uk landline post 1st October 5.25ppm, cost to 0844 5ppm,
call set up for uk landline 9p per call, call set up to 0844 2.97p per call

So instead of the costs reducing by this none ban, the cost (although not directly attached although I do have a conspiracy theory) is going up.

The 0844 at least paid towards the surgery whilst the cost of the call to the 01 number is going straight to BT

http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumerProducts/displayCategory.do?catego... is the BT pricing


am I right?
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:58pm by geesus1 »  
 
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #145 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 1:24pm
 
Remember that a lot of people have inclusive packages with BT land lines so depending which option they are on, the 01, 02, 03, 0870 & 0845 numbers, will be counted as inclusive calls
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #146 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 1:51pm
 
geesus1 wrote on Sep 15th, 2009 at 12:49pm:
after trwaling through the BT website, it looks like it will be more expensive to call a normal number from a BT phone during the day (when the doctors are open) than ringing an 0844.

Please correct my maths if I am wrong.

call to uk landline post 1st October 5.25ppm, cost to 0844 5ppm,
call set up for uk landline 9p per call, call set up to 0844 2.97p per call

So instead of the costs reducing by this none ban, the cost (although not directly attached although I do have a conspiracy theory) is going up.

The 0844 at least paid towards the surgery whilst the cost of the call to the 01 number is going straight to BT

This is BT's position for its most basic tariff. The "all inclusive" one still charges 0844 numbers at the 5ppm, but geographical calls at 0ppm.

The nature of the market for geographical calls is that there are varying tariffs. In general, from landlines there are the two extremes: all inclusive and chargeable.

In contrast, 0844 calls drive a coach and horses through this process and remain the same irrespective of tariff.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #147 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 6:24pm
 
The new marketing lie, or less than half truth - and expect to start hearing it a lot more often fairly soon - will be that 0844 numbers are cheaper to call than ordinary landlines.

I heard this when calling a call centre number for Parcel Force the other day. The 0191 listed on here is no longer valid, so they tell you to call 0844....... and that it's no more expensive ...... but they can't be arsed to tell you what the actual call rate is

This will probably happen all over the place, ignoring the fact that plenty of people have inclusive calls for ordinary landlines but never these.

I called Ofcom to complain about this announcement being misleading and factually inaccurate for more hours a week than it is true, and in any case totally untrue until BT tariffs increase.

I rather suspect the person I spoke to may have once worked at Vodafone customer services, judging by the scathing insolence he used, which is certainly a new experience when talking to Ofcom [well, for me at least]

Anyway: there is no requirement to give tariff announcements on 0844 numbers, I was told. Ok fine, I replied, but if a company voluntarily does so, it should not be inaccurate to the point of being misleading or evasive. 

You've made some other complaints here before haven't you sir? You should be aware then that Ofcom does not intervene in disputes; perhaps you should take out a private small claims case against Parcel Force for damages.

Let's just say I gave him some suggestions about how Ofcom might do its job, including that they'd spent at least 4 years fannying about with the dilemma of 0870 numbers, then by design allowed phone companies to introduce adjacent numbers that were bound to cause confusion and an expanding continuation of the whole shambles. And that 0844 were actually much more expensive off-peak than 0870 ever was.

It's outside our control, he said. Ofcom allocates the numbers, so I'll thank you not to lie to me, I replied


Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the announcement was that doctors will be banned from using premium rate numbers

Ofcom will tell you that 0844 numbers are not premium rate.

So my interpretation would be that 0844 will very likely continue to be used, and the minister's choice of words implies he's unaware of enough detail of what he's talking about.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #148 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 7:35pm
 
andy9 wrote on Sep 15th, 2009 at 6:24pm:
Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought the announcement was that doctors will be banned from using premium rate numbers

Ofcom will tell you that 0844 numbers are not premium rate.

So my interpretation would be that 0844 will very likely continue to be used, and the minister's choice of words implies he's unaware of enough detail of what he's talking about.

The DH news release states that "phone numbers that charge the public or patients a premium rate to contact the NHS are to be banned". It goes on to say "The ban means that GPs and other NHS organisations remain free to use 084 numbers, providing patients are not charged more than a local rate number."

So GPs can use 084 and.or revenue sharing numbers where they cost no more than a call to a normal landline number.

Of course, we know that this isn't possible, so in effect it means a ban on 084 numbers. However, the BMA thinks that changes in tariffs will be made so that GPs can continue using their 084 numbers.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #149 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:15pm
 
Source: Lincolnshire Echo

http://www.thisislincolnshire.co.uk/news/Calling-GP-cost/article-1337078-detail/...

<<

Calling your GP may not cost as much
Tuesday, September 15, 2009, 06:30

Patients at 16 Lincolnshire GP surgeries will only need to pay the rate of a local call when dialling their doctor.

The surgeries use an 084 number that can cost the caller as much as 40p a minute.

This has sparked outrage from patients who say they should not be financially penalised for ringing an NHS service.

But the Government ruled yesterday that excess charges incurred by a caller needing to ring a 084 number to contact their surgery will be scrapped.

Patients will still dial 084 numbers to get through to their surgery, but will soon only pay for the cost of a local call.

The Department of Health says the changes will be put into GP contracts over the coming months.

Sarah Howells, spokesman for NHS Lincolnshire said: "There are currently sixteen GP surgeries in Lincolnshire using 084 numbers.

"NHS Lincolnshire is working closely with these practices to integrate the national changes into GP contracts."

[…]

>>


It's one thing putting clauses into contracts, but how are GPs going to comply with them? How can they influence the charges that every last telephone provider charges? Ofcom could not enforce regulation on providers to charge 0870 numbers at no more than a normal landline, so what makes the DH think that GPs will be able to do it?
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 9:24pm by Dave »  
 
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