NHS premium rate numbers ban14th September 2009
The government has confirmed that it is to outlaw premium telephone charges for members of the public calling the NHS.
90% of the 3,000 people who replied to a public consultation about the issue said that calls should cost standard rates.
The NHS will not be able to use 084 numbers to charge patients who wish to contact their GP or hospital.
However, patients in hospital who want to use the telephone will continue to use 084 numbers and will be charged accordingly.
The premium charges can cost 40p per minute on some 084 numbers, although others have similar rates to standard telephone calls.
Health minister Mike O'Brien said they had been worried that some patients had been charged over the standard rate to call the health service.
"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," he added.
The British Medical Association said the ban on some 084 charges was the "fairest way" to proceed.
Dr Richard Vautrey, deputy chairman of the BMA's GPs committee, said: "Patients who call their surgery because they're ill shouldn't be penalised because they have to call an 084 number."
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Title: NHS premium rate numbers ban
Author: Jess Laurence
Article Id: 12627
Date Added: 14th Sep 2009