I added the following comments to an article published by the Sheffield Star - GP phone numbers switch.
As the comment item was published as an unbroken string of characters, it may be more easily read below:
The work being undertaken by NHS Sheffield is to be commended.
Both it and the practices should however be aware that switching to a geographic or 03 number is the ONLY way of achieving the compliance with the terms of the contract, which was demanded by 1 April 2011.
GP contracts covering leasing of equipment and use of a particular system cannot preclude use of a legitimate telephone number. Migration to a 03 number is an option available to every practice.
The revisions to the contractual terms were applied in April 2010. Practices have had plenty of time to make the necessary arrangements.
NHS Rotheram has no need to continue to "review its policy"; its duty to enforce the terms of the contract has been unchanged since these revisions were applied 16 MONTHS AGO.
Along with the other PCTs, NHS Rotheram is set to be abolished in 20 months time.This behaviour does not help those of us who are campaigning to defend the NHS and the public servants who are charged with uploading its values.
NHS Doncaster and its practices should take a little trouble to check what patients are actually paying to call their GPs. When one looks at the facts it may be seen that the providers to the practices were mistaken in their assurances!
The implication that those calling from a BT line do not pay more to call 084 numbers than for an equivalent call to a geographic number is incorrect.
Whilst BT itself includes calls to 0845 numbers in the consequently inflated cost of its Call Plans, other call providers who may be used by those with BT lines do not.BT does not include calls to 0845 number in its "social tariff" - BT Basic. Nobody includes calls to 0844 numbers in their standard packages, so these invariably cause callers to incur a premium charge.
The expense of a "call back" system that prevents those wishing to speak with their surgery from incurring illegal surcharges is a ridiculous waste of money. Every practice is readily able to move swiftly into compliance - the call back idea is pure nonsense.