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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Use of revenue sharing 084x telephone numbers banned in the NHS - Yes or No?

To: NHS bodies in England delivering or commissioning NHS services delivered by telephone (I include the NHS Direct Trust on account of services it delivers for other NHS bodies, notably the East of England SHA, which are subject to the Directions referred to, despite the fact that it is not.)

cc: Media, concerned MPs, Department of Health, Contact Council, Fellow campaigners

From: David Hickson - Campaigner for the NHS

On 21 December 2009, the Department of Health issued Directions to NHS bodies concerning the cost of telephone calls, accompanied by a "Dear Colleague" letter.

In essence, these directions prohibit use of 084x telephone numbers in the provision of NHS services.

In fact, the covering letter attempts to suggest that this is not what they are doing, however I cannot see how any NHS body (as each is left to make its own determination) could come to any other conclusion.

Put simply, a 084x telephone number could only be used in circumstances where it was established that no patient would ever call that number from a BT public payphone, a landline provided by Virgin Media or any mobile phone. If the Department of Health has used the time that it has been occupied on this matter seriously then it must have somehow concluded that such circumstances could exist. It has directed each individual NHS body to make this separate determination in respect of every 084x telephone number.

All of the tariffs applicable to the services referred to above charge more for any call to a 084x number than to a geographic number - the criterion that prohibits use of 084x numbers. Whilst some may benefit from cheaper rates, the principles of the NHS could not allow some patients to (indirectly) pay providers for access to NHS services, because other patients have their costs subsidised by other charges levied by their telephone company.

I address these matters in detailed briefings, offered as advice on the Directions, as follows:

1 - Introduction and Summary
2 - Useful information on various points that are commonly misunderstood
3 - List of telephone tariffs categorised according to the relative cost of calling 084x vs. geographic numbers

I hope that the information I provide is found useful.

I will be delighted to assist further.

1 comment:

  1. One thing that I cant seem to find anywhere is what will happen to the surgeries/bodies that do not comply by the target date of 21st December?



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