GP 084 number reviewed16th December 2008
The government is considering banning GP surgeries from using phone numbers beginning with 084.
A consultation has started to ask people in England if they would prefer the numbers to be used or to have them banned.
The numbers have attracted criticism from campaigners who argue that as a patient must pay to use them, they go against the principles of the health service.
Many family doctors and hospitals use 084 numbers for patient information services and appointment booking.
A patient who calls an 084 number can wait in a queue to speak to someone and any money made from the service is put back into paying for the number.
The government is considering banning the numbers because additional charges can end up costing patients as much as 40p per minute.
The NEG (Network Group Europe) company is the supplier of 084 numbers to the health service and states that 10 million people in the UK who are registered with GP surgeries can use the system.
Health Minister Ben Bradshaw said: "A few years ago we banned the previous systems that were proving expensive."
"But people got round it by using 084 numbers. We now need to find a sustainable solution. We'd have to look carefully at whether existing contracts could be interrupted."
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Wednesday 17th December 2008 @ 15:16
I think it is high time this was reviewed. I thoroughly object to paying for an 084 number, when I get 1 hour free for a local number using my BT landline. I hope it gets outlawed.
Rev. Akasha Lonsdale
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Title: GP 084 number reviewed
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 9596
Date Added: 16th Dec 2008