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Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need help (Read 11,500 times)
DutyDruid
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Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need help
Sep 22nd, 2009 at 10:52pm
 
Hi.

Relative newbie at the FOI game although I understand it very well.  Old hand at the tecchie game.

Intend to make an FOI request to the family's doctor to be able to bypass their 0844 number but thought I would test my understanding of the 0845/0844 number system first so that they don't have room to wriggle out of answering the question.

Once upon a time I was involved in setting up an 0845 number for the RN Casualty Coordination centre (in the days when it made a positive difference to what the caller was charged caller).  In those days you gave BT the geographic number of the phone you wanted to use and said "point my 0845 number to this phone".  Thereafter you were able to phone either the geographic number or the 0845 number to reach that phone.

Question: Is my understanding of how this works still correct?

If someone can confirm then I will write the letter and let everyone know how I get on.

Thanks

The Duty Druid.
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Dave
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #1 - Sep 22nd, 2009 at 11:01pm
 
DutyDruid wrote on Sep 22nd, 2009 at 10:52pm:
Once upon a time I was involved in setting up an 0845 number for the RN Casualty Coordination centre (in the days when it made a positive difference to what the caller was charged caller).  In those days you gave BT the geographic number of the phone you wanted to use and said "point my 0845 number to this phone".  Thereafter you were able to phone either the geographic number or the 0845 number to reach that phone.

Question: Is my understanding of how this works still correct?

In general the answer is apparently yes, but it is obviously impossible to prove or disprove for every single case.

What surgery is it and what is the 0844 number?
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« Last Edit: Sep 22nd, 2009 at 11:29pm by Dave »  
 
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #2 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 7:17am
 
This could be worth a shot, however the provisions of the FOI Act are very particular. It certainly cannot be used to cause the GP to publish a direct access number and withdraw publication of the 0844 number that we are told will shortly become invalid. It has been found that there are exemptions that can be deployed to frustrate such efforts through the FOI route.

The ICO, the PCT and the Department of Health should be able to help with general and specific advice about this. In the latter case the Minister is keen 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.” If using the existing direct number is the best way to achieve this, then one could expect the Department to be helpful, if not directly supportive, of any efforts to this end.

The possibility of patients using the announcement last week as the basis for a simple request for a direct geographic number, without the formality of a the FOI procedure has been discussed as a campaign tactic. There are many ways in which the number could be obtained, including: a polite enquiry; a formal FOI request; a threatening demand; secretly examining papers on and around the reception desk; bribing staff; inciting whistle-blowing; and detective work trying numbers similar to other direct numbers published by the surgery. Obviously one could not countenance any improper action, however it would be foolish not to recognise that many people get very angry about this issue. They have now been offered a reassurance by the Minister, which he appears not to be ready to deliver, so he will doubtless be grateful for any assistance that members of the public can provide, even if this is motivated by anger at his failure to indicate how he will be able to deliver the reassurance.

I tiptoed very gently around this issue in my media release to accompany the DH announcement.

My own GP adheres firmly to the principles of the NHS, so I could not participate personally, however I believe that they would be widespread support for the idea of a national campaign of affected patients demanding the ability to contact their GP without incurring premium charges. That is delivered by publication of the underlying geographic number.
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derrick
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #3 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:23am
 
I doubt a FOI request to a doctors would be of any use, as FOI's can only be used against Public Bodies, and the doctors keep pointing out they are "private enterprises", (I think they use another term, but they do not conform to the FOI).
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DutyDruid
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #4 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:35am
 
Dave wrote on Sep 22nd, 2009 at 11:01pm:
What surgery is it and what is the 0844 number?


For Dave:
The surgery is Portchester Health Centre, West Street and the number is 0844 477 8642.

SilentCallsVictim wrote on Sep 23rd, 2009 at 7:17am:
In the latter case the Minister is keen 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.” 


For SilentCallsVictim:
Thanks for the background.  My circumstance is that I pay Virgin for a combined phone/broadband/cable TV package that includes unlimited free calls to geographic numbers.  That means that a call to any number starting 084 I have to pay for, and I have a similar deal on my mobile.  I may include some of what you mentioned (as well as the above) as background in the letter making the request, particularly the bit about the Minister's statement.

I've just scanned through your blog about this, any chance you could point me at a reference to the ministers announcement/statement that calls should be no more expensive than if a normal geographic number was called?  That would be the icing on the cake for a punchy short request.

And perhaps I ought to come clean, although I am a newbie at making FOI requests, as a professional business analyst in the Navy I was involved in setting up their business process to handle FOI requests so I know what is "in" and what is "out" backwards...
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sherbert
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #5 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:49am
 
DutyDruid....

According to the www.192.com web site this is their number


0870 429 2470



Now, if they are still using this number, it is inclusive on BT land lines, depending which option you are on and also some other (not all) providers.

Also I think I am right in saying that 0870 numbers with BT are charged the same as 01, 02 & 03 numbers
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loddon
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #6 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 11:46am
 
sherbert wrote on Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:49am:
DutyDruid....

According to the www.192.com web site this is their number


0870 429 2470


According to NHS Choices and other search results their numbers are :---

Portchester Health Centre

Portchester Health Centre, West Street, Portchester, Hampshire, PO16 9TU

Phone: 0844 477 8642
Fax: 0870 890 2471

The 0870 429 2470  is probably the old 0870 number prior to the banning in 2005.   Shows how up to date 192.com are!!


The 0870 numbers were prohibited back in 2005 so this particular set of GPs have been rooking their patients for at least 5 years and still using an 0870 for their fax shows what an unscrupulous money-grabbing lot of swine they are.
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SilentCallsVictim
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Re: Intend to make FOI request to doctor - need he
Reply #7 - Sep 23rd, 2009 at 2:53pm
 
derrick wrote on Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:23am:
I doubt a FOI request to a doctors would be of any use, as FOI's can only be used against Public Bodies, and the doctors keep pointing out they are "private enterprises", (I think they use another term, but they do not conform to the FOI).

Schedule 1, Part III, item 44 of the FOI Act lists those providing General Medical Services “in respect of information relating to the provision of those services”.

Although not public bodies, those holding GMS contracts (i.e. most GPs) are subject to the terms of the Act in this respect.


DutyDruid wrote on Sep 23rd, 2009 at 10:35am:
... any chance you could point me at a reference to the ministers announcement/statement that calls should be no more expensive than if a normal geographic number was called?

The relevant direct quotations from the Department of Health announcement of 14 September 2009, are as follows:

Quote:
  • The use of phone numbers that charge the public or patients a premium rate to contact the NHS are to be banned in England, Health Minister Mike O’Brien announced today.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It is not our intention to prohibit ‘revenue sharing’ as part of our proposals – the important thing is to ensure that patients are not being made to pay more than the equivalent cost of calling an 01 or 02 number.
  • 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.

The tolerance of use of 084 numbers to obtain funding through “revenue sharing” is clearly qualified, so this cannot be seen as applying in all cases. Confusion arises because the only cases where this could apply is where it can be guaranteed that all callers will be subject to certain atypical telephone tariffs. Subscription to a particular telephone service is not a condition that the NHS imposes on patients.

Despite the clear statement about the method of implementation, the BMA has announced that the ban will be implemented by “Changes to 084 number tariffs”. This unfounded suggestion has led to much misunderstanding in the media, which may be repeated.
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