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GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire) (Read 712,330 times)
catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #480 - Dec 7th, 2012 at 11:24am
 
A classic tale from five years ago:  http://deathboy.livejournal.com/999177.html

(and the accompanying image http://i11.tinypic.com/6foq0ko.jpg with the details).
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FordPrefect
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #481 - Dec 8th, 2012 at 1:28pm
 
Barnoldswick Medical Centre is now showing a geographic alternative to the 0844-4773461 number on its website.
It is 01282-500929 and a quick check today gave me an automated reply confirming it is the correct number.
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« Last Edit: Dec 8th, 2012 at 1:43pm by FordPrefect »  
 
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Dave
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #482 - Dec 8th, 2012 at 2:40pm
 
FordPrefect wrote on Dec 8th, 2012 at 1:28pm:
Barnoldswick Medical Centre is now showing a geographic alternative to the 0844-4773461 number on its website.
It is 01282-500929 and a quick check today gave me an automated reply confirming it is the correct number.

Barnoldswick Medical Centre is a disgrace to our NHS.

It provides a two-tier NHS service where patients who are prepared to pay a fee through the 0844 number can get a better service. Those who call the 01282 500929 number will hear the engaged tone if another patient is on the line.

So if the caller to the 01282 number is on the line for five minutes, then for five minutes there is no way to contact the practice unless one is prepared to pay the 0844 charge.

I called the 01282 number and it answered immediately with the IVR welcoming me to the medical centre. I then called it again from another phone, whilst the first call was still on, and got the engaged tone.

I did this a number of times in succession and all times got through on the first call and got the engaged tone on the second.
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« Last Edit: Dec 8th, 2012 at 2:42pm by Dave »  
 
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #483 - Dec 9th, 2012 at 4:32pm
 
This is very much "estimated", but I'm sure it won't be all that far from the truth.


The details below are based on a call rate of about 920 calls per surgery per week (1.1 million calls per week nationally). I have since seen evidence that many surgeries take close to 2500 calls per week - meaning that all of the figures below can be more than doubled.



The 1200 surgeries using 0844 numbers apparently receive 1.1 million phone calls per week between them.

It has been stated in several newspapers that a third of those calls are from mobile phones and that of the two thirds of calls from landlines only a third of those originate from BT customers.

So, per week we have (rounded to nearest thousand)
733 000 calls from landlines (of which 244 000 are from BT customers) and
366 000 calls from mobiles.


You hear of people queueing for a while, only for the call to be dropped without speaking to anyone. I don't know if those are counted towards the 1.1 million calls figure or not: either way, the customer still paid for the call and a connection fee also may have also applied.

You hear of people queueing for 10 to 15 minutes or more and you hear about callers being placed on hold for 10 to 20 minutes while the receptionist is finding something out for the caller. You rarely hear about the people that queue for one minute and then have a simple uninterrupted three minute call but there must be lots of those too.

It's unknown how many minutes all of these calls add up to, so we'll assume a 5 minute average for the total of queueing and speaking for each call. I suspect that the real figure is a bit, or quite a bit, higher.

It is likely that a significant number of callers that intend to make a call that they know might take a long time, look at their options of calling from landlines or from mobiles and then choose the one that they think will be cheaper to call. It's also likely that a signicant number of people are not aware of the various call prices or have only one method of contact. It's also true that those at the poorer end of society might have a pay as you go mobile phone as their only calling option.



For the 733 000 calls from landines, we'll assume 80% are on call packages with free calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. In this case, these customers would have paid 0 pence for their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers but instead paid a fee to call the 0844 number as it is not a part of any bundled allowance. They would also have had to pay a connection fee per call.

These landline customers with call packages account for 588 000 calls or 2 940 000 minutes per week.


Customers with BT landlines and call packages account for 196 000 calls or 980 000 minutes per week (one third of the landline package total).

Assuming 5 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers, they paid 4 900 000 pence (49 000 pounds) for their calls to 0844 numbers and this is 4 900 000 pence (49 000 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.

They also paid connection charges (assume 8 pence per call) of 1 570 000 pence (15 700 pounds) for calling an 0844 number and this is 1 570 000 pence (15 700 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.


Customers with non-BT landlines and call-packages account for 392 000 calls or 1 960 000 minutes per week (two thirds of the landline package total).

Assuming 5 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers, they paid 9 800 000 pence (98 000 pounds) for their calls to 0844 numbers and this is 9 800 000 pence (98 000 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.

They also paid connection charges (assume 10 pence per call) of 3 920 000 pence (39 200 pounds) for calling an 0844 number and this is 3 920 000 pence (39 200 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.


For the 733 000 calls from landines, we'll assume the other 20% are those without call packages. These callers would have paid a "penalty charge" (what used to be the standard "per minute" charge, but now inflated) of perhaps 8 pence per minute for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers as their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers are not part of any bundled allowances, but instead paid 5 pence per minute for their call to the 0844 number as it too is not part of any bundled allowance.

These landline customers without call packages account for 147 000 calls or 735 000 minutes per week.

Assuming 8 pence per minute for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers would have cost 5 880 000 pence (58 800 pounds).

Assuming 5 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers, they actually paid 3 680 000 pence (36 800 pounds) for their calls to 0844 numbers and this is 2 200 000 pence (22 000 pounds) less than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number on its inflated "non bundle deal" call rate.

They also paid connection charges (assume 8 pence per call) of 1 180 000 pence (11 800 pounds) and this is a similar amount to the connection fee had an 01, 02 or 03 number been called.



There would also be 366 000 calls from mobile phones per week and these would be split between contract deals and pay as you go deals. A figure has to picked, so a 40% contract and 60% pay as you go mix has been chosen for this example.


(cont'd...)
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« Last Edit: Dec 10th, 2012 at 1:07pm by catj »  
 
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #484 - Dec 9th, 2012 at 4:37pm
 
For the 366 000 calls made using mobile phones, we'll assume that 40% are on contract deals where calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers cost 0 pence per minute as long as there are inclusive minutes remaining. None of the mobile phone deals include 0844 numbers in call allowances and bundles so all mobile callers pay for every call made to an 0844 number. Call prices for 0844 numbers vary from 25 pence per minute to 41 pence per minute, with more tariffs charging at the higher end of that scale. Assuming an average of 33 pence per minute for this example (though the reality is probably a couple of pence per minute more).

There were 146 000 calls from contract mobile phones accounting for 730 000 minutes.

Assuming an average of 33 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers, they paid 24 100 000 pence (241 000 pounds) for their calls to 0844 numbers and this is 24 100 000 pence (241 000 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.


For the 366 000 calls made using mobile phones, we'll assume that the other 60% are on pay as you go deals where these charge a per-minute rate to 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Call prices for 01, 02 and 03 numbers vary from 5 pence per minute to 35 pence per minute. It's hard to choose an "average", but we'll pick 25 pence per minute for now. No mobile deals include 0844 numbers in call allowances and bundles so all mobile callers would pay for every call made to an 0844 number. Call prices for 0844 numbers vary from 25 pence per minute to 41 pence per minute, with more tariffs charging at the higher end of that scale. Assuming an average of 35 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers for this example.

There were 220 000 calls from pay as you go mobile phones accounting for 1 100 000 minutes.

Assuming an average of 25 pence per minute for calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers, their calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers would have cost 27 500 000 pence (275 000 pounds).

Assuming an average of 35 pence per minute for calls to 0844 numbers, they actually paid 38 500 000 pence (385 000 pounds) for their calls to 0844 numbers and this is 11 000 000 pence (110 000 pounds) more than if they had called an 01, 02 or 03 number.


In reality, some pay as you go customers would have a number of inclusive minutes to 01, 02 and 03 numbers available to use each month, meaning that they actually paid 35 pence per minute more (rather than only 10 pence more) to call 0844 numbers than to call 01, 02 and 03 numbers. This is offset by the fact that some contract users would have run out of their inclusive minutes to call 01, 02 and 03 numbers by the time they wanted to call the GP, so would have been paying 25 to 35 pence per minute (25 to 35 pence per minute more than their 0 pence per minute inclusive rate) to call 01, 02 and 03 numbers. Neither factors have been included in the calculations here as the gut feeling is that the two amounts probably cancel each other out.


There would also be some calls from public payphones. I'd guess that these account for less than 1% of callers, so I'm not going to include them here.



So, per week... based on 1.1 million calls of 5 minutes duration (the total for queueing and talking)...

588 000 landline callers with inclusive call packages pay a total of 20 200 000 pence (202 000 pounds) (34 pence per call) and that is 20 200 000 pence (202 000 pounds) (34 pence per call) over the odds for calling their GP.

147 000 landline callers without inclusive call packages pay a total of 4 860 000 pence (48 600 pounds) (33 pence per call) and manage to save a total of 2 200 000 pence (22 000 pounds) between them (15 pence per call) compared to the inflated "non bundle deal" price for geographic calls.

366 000 mobile callers pay a total of 62 600 000 pence (626 000 pounds) (171 pence per call) and that is 35 100 000 pence (351 000 pounds) (96 pence per call) over the odds for contacting their GP.


In total, those 1.1 million calls end up costing users 876 600 000 pence (876 600 pounds) per week and that figure is 53 100 000 pence (531 000 pounds) over the odds per week compared to what it would have cost had the GP been using an 01, 02 or 03 number.

This state of affairs has persisted for the last 5 years or more, with more than 1200 GPs using 0844 numbers (with some estimates as high as 1500 at the peak).

The British public have been over-charged at least 13 806 000 000 pence (138 060 000 pounds) or 138 million quid over the last five years for calling their GP.


Additionally, since NEG take a 5 pence per minute "service charge" they suck out 5 500 000 pence (55 000 pounds) per week and that makes them at least 1 430 000 000 pence (14 300 000 pounds) or 14 million quid over the last 5 years too. I have seen one document that inferred that NEG had made 27 million quid out of the 0844 subsidy, so my figures here may very well be under-estimated by 50%.


The phone companies have also done very well out of this too: pocketing almost 124 million quid (less any termination fees) over the last 5 years.



If every GP in the UK had been doing this, all of the figures above could be multipied by 5 or 6 or 7...
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« Last Edit: Dec 10th, 2012 at 11:08am by catj »  
 
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #485 - Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:16pm
 
And from a different angle, based on the estimated 920 calls, each of five minutes duration, per week figure (1.1 million calls per week spread over 1200 surgeries), each surgery using 0844 numbers ends up inflating their patients bills by a total of about 1860 quid per month (on average), and NEG take out just under 200 quid of that as their "service charge". I'm guessing that 200 quid isn't enough to run the system, so most GPs will probably pay additional charges to NEG anyway.

And I do suspect that both of the above figures are under-estimated by, maybe as much as, 50%. Beware that doubling the estimated five-minute length of calls will not see a straight doubling of the bill price: the price includes a connection fee for some types of call and that fee is, of course, only paid once per call.



From another angle, patients phone bills are inflated by a total of 483 quid per 1000 five-minute phone calls.

A surgery taking 10 000 calls (of five-minute average duration including queueing) per month on an 0844 number results in their patients collectively paying 4830 quid more to contact their GP compared to the price they would have paid if the GP had been using an 01, 02 or 03 number as required by the April 2010 GMS contract variation.

Beware that doubling the estimated five-minute length of calls will not see a straight doubling of the bill price: the price includes a connection fee for some types of call and that fee is, of course, only paid once per call.

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« Last Edit: Dec 10th, 2012 at 2:02pm by catj »  
 
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #486 - Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:43pm
 
Don't remember this one being mentioned before:

Lindley Group Practice
62 Acre Street, Lindley, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD3 3DY
0844 387 8342

http://www.nhs.uk/Services/GP/Overview/DefaultView.aspx?id=43294
Quote:
NEW TELEPHONE NUMBER

In response to overwhelming comments in a patient survey regarding access to the surgery by telephone, we implemented a new telephone system on 2nd August 2012  (0844 387 8342). At peak times, there will be a queue system however, this will ensure your call is answered rather than getting an engaged tone.

Worried about the cost?

0844 numbers are often mistaken as more costly  when actually 0844 numbers can  be cheaper to call from a landline than geographic numbers beginning with 01 and 02.  Confusion such as this can obscure the reality that enhanced telephony and the use of an 0844 number by a GP practice is all about improving access to NHS services for patients.  For patients whose phone providers do charge excessively for calls to 0844 numbers, we also have a local geographic number available which is  01484 503349.

For more information, there are leaflets available from reception, just ask.

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« Last Edit: Dec 10th, 2012 at 12:52pm by catj »  
 
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #487 - Dec 10th, 2012 at 1:00pm
 
King Cross Surgery
199 King Cross Road, Halifax, W Yorkshire, HX1 3LW
0844 477 3371

Quote:
Telephone Charges
Some of our patients are reacting again to another round of publicity regarding the use of 0844 lines by surgeries.

We have chosen our telephone system to enable us to manage incoming calls and control our out-of-hours line diversion. It was also a cost effective way to upgrade am antiquated telephone system several years ago to a system that offered patient choice and call management.

The formal Directtions to the NHS in December 2009 did not prohibit an organisation from using specific number ranges for the purpose of contacting NHS services. Organisations remain free to use non-geographical number ranges such as 0844 providing that patients are not charged more than the equivalent cost of calling a geographical number to do so. We have provided information to the PCT in line with requirements and they are satisfied with our system and the evidence/information we have provided to them.

Calls to 0844 477 numbers from a BT landline are priced at BT G6 rate, which at the end of 2010 was 5.10p per minute. Recent price rises have increased this figure. Calls from a BT landline to our 0844 477 number are guaranteed less than the BT advertised rate. (BT Tariff Guide Prices for calls to Specialised Numbers from BT residential Fixed Lines - March 2011).

Some providers, including mobiles, do not class these as local rate calls. They have chosen to class such calls in a higher tariff bracket. Some provider packages, with 'favourite' options do not accept these numbers as favourites - this has been their decision, not ours.

Our recent GP-Patient Survey results showed that patients found our telephone service easy to use and the majority were happy with it - these results can be viewed at www.gp-patient.co.uk.

    Our system does not make charges of '40p and over' per minute.
    We are not making profit from our callers.
    Our system is set to restrict the number of callers who can be kept 'on hold' and there is a limit to the number of minutes patients can stay 'on hold' - our limit is 10 - the average incoming call lasts 50 seconds; callers can choose not to hold but ring back.
    The maximum period our system will keep a caller on hold is 5 minutes. Other companies and agencies have much longer queues and no restriction on the time kept on hold. We consciously selected these limits as reasonable and to avoid exploitation of our callers.
    We cannot alter the rates of calls from mobile networks.
    We too are affected by the high rates charged to call mobile phones, including to patients, and some network providers.
    We take around 10,250 telephone calls per calendar month and need a system that allows us to manage and direct our calls.
    We transfer our system to ensure 24 hour answering every evening, every morning, bank holidays and training days - the system is programmed to do this accurately and consistently.

We understand that the commercial world of telecommunications makes it impossible for all parties to be totally satisfied with the packages on offer and the impact of these on others. However, we believe that if patients work with us they can minimise the cost of calling the surgery. We believe that our system offers safety in telephone transfers for evenings, weekends, bank holidays and training days and transfers precisely at the correct cut off times. We believe that our system gives us the chance to monitor our workload and direct staff to the busiest parts of the weeks so minimising the length of time to answer all the incoming calls we receive.

Last updated on 22 June 2011.


Wow! This is the most despicable "justification" of the use of 0844 numbers that I have ever seen. This one should go to court for false misrepentation.
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« Last Edit: Dec 10th, 2012 at 1:01pm by catj »  
 
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #488 - Dec 10th, 2012 at 1:21pm
 
Wilmslow Health Centre
Chapel Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5HX
08432 909 209 (0843 290 9209)

Quote:
New automated telephone booking system

Wilmslow Health Centre has just launched a new automated telephone booking system which allows patients to book, cancel or rearrange an appointment on the phone, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year!

Our new telephone number is 08432-909-209

Patients can already book online at www.wilmslowhealthcentre.com

Last updated on 20 April 2012.


Sneaky!  It's an 0843 number - and incorrectly formatted, possibly hoping that you won't notice.
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #489 - Dec 10th, 2012 at 6:53pm
 
Western Road Medical Centre, Romford, have removed their 0844 477 2430 number from their web site which is proudly proclaiming that they have a new telephone number.

This is the correct geographical number as shown in your main database.

Chalk one up for the patients!

John
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #490 - Dec 11th, 2012 at 10:31am
 
Bollington Medical Centre
The Waterhouse, Bollington, Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 5JH
08443 87 84 81 (0844 387 8481)

http://www.bollingtonmedicalcentre.co.uk/practice-policies.aspx

Quote:
<preamble snipped>

Inevitably we will receive some queries regarding the cost of phoning an 0844 number and we would like to reassure our patients that we have confirmed with our new network provider that when dialling from a fixed line our patients will not be charged more than the equivalent cost of calling a geographic number. It is the BT standard-plan that is the only regulated tariff used by OFFCOM, and it is acceptable industry practice to use this tariff as the only workable comparator for assessing the comparative costs of calls.

There are a vast number of both land line and mobile network providers and each network provider will offer a variety of packages to meet customer’s individual needs.  For this reason it is not possible to comment on the individual cost for patients phoning both the existing or new surgery number.  Costs from mobiles may be more expensive so please check with your telephone service provider.  If a patient has any concerns regarding the cost of their call to the surgery we would recommend that they speak to their network provider directly as they will be able to advise on the best tariff.      

The new phone number is now live and we look forward to seeing the improvements in telephone access for all our patients.


Wow. Surgery openly admits to complying with the regulations for only a tiny minority of patients while overcharging the rest.

I can't believe they're still peddling this old rubbish from years ago.
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #491 - Dec 15th, 2012 at 7:48am
 
Another recent (19 November) adopter of Surgery Line on a 0844 number has just come to light:

Belmont Hill Surgery - 36 Belmont Hill, Lewisham, London, SE13 5AY - 0844 387 8357

Rather than attempting to make any serious comment to its patients, the practice has simply dumped the text from some sales literature onto its website - see http://belmonthillsurgery.co.uk/articles/title/new-phone-number.html. A copy of this page has been retained for future reference.

I cannot believe that any responsible person could take the absurd (and demonstrably false) claims seriously.

If anyone wishes to go through the detail of this material, there is another thread dedicated to this purpose.
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catj
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #492 - Dec 30th, 2012 at 3:34am
 
Hmm.  The surgery is on Twitter:  @belmonthillgp  https://twitter.com/belmonthillgp
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Re: GPs all over England (not just in South Yorkshire)
Reply #493 - Dec 31st, 2012 at 6:28pm
 
catj wrote on Dec 30th, 2012 at 3:34am:
Hmm.  The surgery is on Twitter:  @belmonthillgp  https://twitter.com/belmonthillgp


Latest Tweet encourages patients to get involved in the Patient Participation Group, perhaps anyone who visits or uses this site, may be interested to join and to work with the surgery to scrap it's 0844 number?

Best to work on the inside if you can.

Smiley

** edited to add a W to Tweet **  Grin
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« Last Edit: Dec 31st, 2012 at 6:30pm by CJT-80 »  

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CJT-80

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Reply #494 - Jan 9th, 2013 at 1:59pm
 
Derby Road Group Practice has recently moved to providing a two-tier NHS service where callers who pay the 0844 Service Charge get a better service:

Quote:
New landline:

As from the 1st of January 2013 there is a new landline number attached to the Practice, it does not have all the automated functions of the current 0844.  Patients are advised to use whichever contact number they prefer either:      

0844 815 1802

or

023 92009265      

Thank you
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