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Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consultation (Read 198,073 times)
idb
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #150 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:31pm
 
From NEG:

http://www.networkeuropegroup.com/neg-084.html

NHS free to choose 084 numbers for local patients

On 14th September 2009, Health Minister Mike O'Brien MP announced that new legislation will be introduced to ensure that local patients do not pay more than the cost of a local call to contact the NHS. This means that GPs and other NHS professionals and organisations will in future remain free to use 084 number based solutions for local services, providing patients do not pay any more than a local call.


The announcement means:

•The use of 084 numbers in the NHS will continue with the support of the Department of Health, so long as patients do not pay more than the cost of a local call;
•Decisions on whether to adopt an 084 number will continue to be freely taken by an individual GP surgery, dental practice or other NHS organisation;
•Revenue sharing is to be allowed to continue;
•The proposed action will allow a marketplace to evolve in which 084 numbers compete alongside 01, 02 and 03 numbers;
•NHS Direct will retain its current 084 number until the Government and OfCom are clear about any future role and function they may have in implementing a national 3-digit number for urgent care.

Commenting on the Government's announcement, NEG Managing Director and chief patient-exploiter, Dean Rayment said

"We applaud the Government's decision to allow patients, GPs and other NHS professionals to continue to benefit from the increased services, convenience and choice that are provided by the use of 084 numbers. We were always confident that, once the full facts about NHS telephony services were considered objectively by the Department of Health, the retention of the option to choose 084 numbers would be seen to be the best solution for patients, GPs and the NHS."


Background to the Government's Announcement

The Department of Health announced a consultation exercise on "The use of 084 numbers in the NHS" on 16th December 2008. The consultation closed on 31st March 2009.

In its official response to the DH consultation exercise, NEG demonstrated:

•For virtually all patients' calls, the local GPs’ 084 number is not more expensive to call than using an ordinary number;
•More than 4.5 million patients use an 084 number to contact their GP surgery every month;
•When allowed to be given the choice, GPs choose 084 numbers because it allows them to improve access and invest in quality services for patients;
•GPs do not make a single penny of individual profit from 084 numbers.

Here are the smiling faces:

http://www.networkeuropegroup.com/about-us-management-team.html
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« Last Edit: Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:40pm by idb »  

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Dave
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #151 - Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:48pm
 
I repeat what Dr Richard Vautrey said:

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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andy9
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #152 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 11:09am
 
Well Dr Vautrey is wrong

I phoned the BMA, and said I thought the press release was inaccurate in detail and risked misleading people, and expanded on some of my reasons

I've been invited to submit my concerns in an email

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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #153 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 11:39am
 
idb wrote on Sep 15th, 2009 at 11:31pm:
"In its official response to the DH consultation exercise, NEG demonstrated:

•For virtually all patients' calls, the local GPs’ 084 number is not more expensive to call than using an ordinary number; "



That is a stunning statement.

NEG's 5p a minute is not less than BT's 4.5p a minute peak rate to ordinary landlines, and penty of people can make calls cheaper than using BT

So if they have convinced anyone that 5p is not more expensive than 4.5p, they have a remarkable ability to mislead people
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« Last Edit: Sep 16th, 2009 at 11:40am by andy9 »  
 
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Barbara
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #154 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 11:59am
 
But surely, from the other posts in this thread, it seems that once the inceased BT prices take effect, the cost to call an 0844 from a landline without any inclusive call package etc WILL be less than a call to a landline, taking account of ppm, set up charge etc?   Please don't anyone think I am in any way saying 0844s are OK, that couldn't be further from the truth, I think they should be banned full stop for everyone everywhere, I am just anticipating the cynical distortion of facts on which the govt, NEG, BMA & some GPs etc will rely to justify their profit or inaction.  If I have misunderstood please someone put me right.   It seems that right through the whole campaign against ngns/premium rates, used by whoever, there has been a deliberate policy by those who use them to ignore completely the issue of call packages because the "basic" call to landline tariff distorts the facts.   In despair, I ask how do we get these people to understand, particularly as they don't want to??
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #155 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 12:50pm
 
A brief comment on the issue of the BT tariff changes affecting the relative position of 0844.

It is highly likely that this will be used in an attempt to disguise the truth, however I do not believe that it could be sustained for long. It does not require the greatest degree of understanding to point out the flaw in the argument. Most people recognise that not everybody uses landline service from BT without using a package. The argument will undoubtedly be made and used to cause further confusion, I do not however see it as the crucial point that will inevitably cause the issue to be decided.

For many years the cost of calling 0845 numbers on BT has been LESS than that of a normal number and they are now included in packages. This has not prevented 0845 from being considered as being part of the problem. The fact that NHS Direct will be exempted from the "ban" has been mentioned explicitly, as if this were an issue. If the cost of chargeable calls from BT had been accepted as the key factor, then 0845 would never have been included in the scope of the matter at all.

If we are talking about lies and deception, NEG claims that the BT price changes in April created the situation where "For virtually all patients' calls, the local GPs’ 084 number is not more expensive to call than using an ordinary number". The further change could remove the word "vitually" from this false claim, but we are already deeply into the territory that will be even more accessible from October.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #156 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 1:45pm
 
Once again we have an escalation of government pick pocketing.

I need to call my physiotherapist to arrange an appointment on yet another thieving 0844 number. The physiotherapist visits a local doctors surgery once a week to use their premises.

The BT argument is completely irrelevant to many people (eg students, house sharers, hostel dwellers) since a lot of people these days do not waste money on BT when they already have inclusive calls on their mobiles.

I was wondering if somebody could give me the same and address of the NEG CEO so I can lie in wait and steal his/her wallet/purse, and see how they like being robbed!
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andy9
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #157 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:17pm
 
Barbara wrote on Sep 16th, 2009 at 11:59am:
But surely, from the other posts in this thread, it seems that once the inceased BT prices take effect, the cost to call an 0844 from a landline without any inclusive call package etc WILL be less than a call to a landline, taking account of ppm, set up charge etc?  


Yes, but NEG are quoting themselves as having said is, not will be

The deadline for submissions in this process was a few months ago, and at the time they made the statement it was demonstrably untrue.

And even now, or in a couple of weeks time, their sweeping generalisation of For virtually all patients' calls ought to be viewed as at best incomplete or at worst intentionally misleading, as it applies to neither inclusive landline bundles nor mobile minutes
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« Last Edit: Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:23pm by andy9 »  
 
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #158 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:36pm
 
andy9 wrote on Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:17pm:
... viewed as at best incomplete or at worst intentionally misleading

As the submission was based on incorrect figures, this view is unnecessarily generous. When using the correct figures for the highly selective example chosen, not even that shows 0844 calls to be cheaper in any circumstances. (From 1 October this will change to make 0844 calls invariably cheaper, but for only one of the examples quoted.)

Members may wish to refer to a commentary on the NEG submission.

I fully endorse the general point made by Andy in this posting. As I said previously, we are already deep in the territory that will become more accessible on 1 October.


P.S. Members may wish to report a "broken link" on the NEG website. (The item is labelled "NEG government consultation 084 click here")

The published response to the DH consultation, which was available some hours ago, has apparently been removed. This would seem odd, considering the pride in this work that is reflected in the recent comments on the government reaction to it.
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« Last Edit: Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:55pm by SilentCallsVictim »  
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #159 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 5:17pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 16th, 2009 at 3:36pm:

P.S. Members may wish to report a "broken link" on the NEG website. (The item is labelled "NEG government consultation 084 click here")

The published response to the DH consultation, which was available some hours ago, has apparently been removed. This would seem odd, considering the pride in this work that is reflected in the recent comments on the government reaction to it.


That's interesting

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Dave
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #160 - Sep 16th, 2009 at 7:55pm
 
Source: Fenland Citizen

http://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/Wisbech-surgery-to-review-call.5651595.jp

<<

Wisbech surgery to review call service following ban

Published Date: 16 September 2009

A WISBECH doctor's surgery has promised to look into its patients' call service following a government announcement banning the use of premium rate numbers by NHS organisations.

Philip Wearing, practice manager at the North Brink Surgery, said it was too soon to say what action they would be taking following Monday's announcement which outlaws the use of 084 numbers from April.

The surgery hit the Citizen front page earlier this year when a patient claimed to have spent around £5 trying to get through to the practice to make an appointment.

At the time Mr Wearing defended North Brink's use of an 084 number, saying it provided a better service for patients as it allowed their calls to be held in a queuing system rather than getting an engaged tone.

[…]

Mr Wearing said techinically the surgery was not an NHS organisation as it was a private business contracted through the Primary Care Trust.

However, he said they would be seeking advice from the PCT and would take appropriate action on that advice.

>>


The Fenland Citizen article from April in which one of North Brink's patients was reported to have run up a £5 bill ringing it is here:

http://www.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/5-phone-bill-to-make.5189012.jp


Coming back to the report above, published today, the author has used the DH's news release from the ban of 0870 numbers in 2005 as it reports that only 290 surgeries are using these numbers and that the Minister who made the announcement was John Hutton. I gather this is also where the reference to "lo-call" rate has come from.

One solution, at least in the mean time, would be that the surgery should promote its geographical number, 01945 468900.

Let us be clear that using the 01945 number does not mean that there is no queuing. Patients will get the engaged tone when the maximum number of simultaneous calls that the number can accept has been reached.

So using a 0844 number because callers will never hear the engaged tone simply means that there can be, practically speaking, an infinite number of calls waiting.

The reason for making this point is make readers aware that no 0844 number does not mean no queuing.

The question GPs should ask is how many calls should be queued? Should there be a limit (at which point all other callers get the engaged tone) or not? Which is best is not something I'm interested in getting into.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #161 - Sep 17th, 2009 at 6:18am
 
Thoughts collected and blogged
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #162 - Sep 17th, 2009 at 12:39pm
 
SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 17th, 2009 at 6:18am:
Thoughts collected and blogged

So all in all, all parties are just stalling for time and they aren't any nearer to having a workable solution than they were when the consultation commenced nine months ago. The media has reported the nonsense that "tariffs will be adjusted". GPs will resume signing up to new contracts for telephone systems that use 084 numbers.

When the Parliamentary recess ends on Monday 12 October, hopefully MPs will question how the Health Minister will deliver his promise 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."
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« Last Edit: Sep 17th, 2009 at 12:42pm by Dave »  
 
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #163 - Sep 17th, 2009 at 2:07pm
 
David, I'm struggling to get into your blog. It just freezes every time I try. It might be me (I am using a pretty old version of IE [6]), but I'm not having a problem with any others and I'm in and out of web sites all day.

Dave, I agree with you 100%. This is such a pigs ear of a solution that I think NEG and GPs will carry on with their fingers crossed until and if someone does anything about it. That could be years of more complaints. I suspect a lot will depend upon what the PCTs do. If they insist that the call costs do not exceed the cost of a geographic call from a mobile, inclusive package or phone box then the GPs will have no option but to move from 0844 numbers because the 0844 (as we all know) can not be reduced to that price (often a marginal cost over the package cost of nil) for every single telephone supplier and still involve revenue sharing. However if they make the requirements very woolly eg only comparing to BT landline non inclusive packages then we have a real mess.

The latter can not be justified because of the issue of pay phones, inclusive packages and mobile phones. I think mobile phones will be the crunch issue as so many people use them and the premium can be so large eg 40p compared to 'zero' per minute for some.
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Re: Doctors' phone line use reviewed - DH consulta
Reply #164 - Sep 17th, 2009 at 2:08pm
 
Dave wrote on Sep 17th, 2009 at 12:39pm:
... question how the Health Minister will deliver his promise 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."

It was not a "promise" but expression of a hope to be able to deliver a "reassurance"

After the speech by his boss today, it is very easy to see how that reassurance will be delivered, perhaps in a few years time, by a different minister.

"If your local GP or hospital does not have a number that is "local" enough for your personal needs, then you can choose another. We actually find that GPs with 084 numbers are able to deliver a better telephone service and therefore attract more and better-off patients also creating a better atmosphere in their 'Costa patient's lounge'.
"Busy people for whom time is money find the priority booking system (sponsored by Accurist) a great advantage in those surgeries where it is offered. Calling their special £1 per call lines gives you first access to same day appointments and your choice of doctor. Several surgeries that refused to offer this service had to close, as they fell into defecit due to lack of demand. That is unfortunate, but the NHS has to deliver what people want. GP's can't buck the market.
"Many surgeries now offer a direct telephone consultation with a GP, for only £1 per minute (£2 after 6.30 p.m.). This is an indication of how technology is improving the service that is delivered to NHS customers in Digital Britain.
"For those whose needs are best met by cheaper services there is the Dr Ronald freephone service where appointments for children can be booked by calling a freephone number that also gives free advice about healthy eating. When they visit the McSurgery they will receive a "I'm feeling poorly hat" and discount vouchers for a meal at their local McDonald's restaurant.
"Customers are getting what they want."

If public spending is to be constrained but "investment" in the NHS to be maintained, then this is what we can look forward to.
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