David Hickson's Media Releases

My recent bloggings

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Ofcom writes to Silent Callers to tell them "Merry Christmas - it's OK - and a Happy New Year of Silent Calling"

Ofcom yesterday issued a circular letter to those it knows to be making Silent Calls - "Tackling ... Silent Calls".

This is intended to draw the attention of those who make Silent Calls to Ofcom's policy of qualified approval of the practice. It follows a consultation, to which I responded.

Most of us believe that habitually hanging up in Silence when a telephone call is answered must invariably be regarded as "Persistent Misuse of a Communications Network or Service". This is NOT the policy being followed by Ofcom. By this letter, that fact is made very clear to Silent Callers.

In 2006, Ofcom was informed of the expectation of parliament -
"we expect you to use your powers to eradicate the nuisance of Silent Calls"

In its letter, Ofcom tells Silent Callers of the steps it expects them to take
"where such calls are made, ways to LIMIT consumer harm"

Ofcom tolerates what it chooses to call “consumer harm”.

Silent Calls may readily be avoided in two ways:

Always using an Informative Message, played live when the call is answered, to apologise and inform the person called of the true identity of the caller whenever no agent is available to handle an answered call that was dialled automatically.
Ceasing use of unreliable Answering Machine Detection technology, designed to hear the clicks and whirrs of a mechanical answering machine, in favour of Answering Service Detection, where the use of any answering service is detected reliably from a signal issued by the service.

Confirmation of Ofcom's approval of the practice of making Silent Calls and its absurd suggestions of how consumer harm may be "LIMITED" may be seen in the following further quotations from the letter:

"... an abandoned call rate ... of no more than 3% ..." - 1 in every 33 calls may result in silence.
"not contacting consumers within 72 hours of their receiving an abandoned call" - leave people waiting for 3 days before the next Silent Call, or perhaps the chance for a caller to acknowledge their previous error and apologise.
"... they can trace who rang them by dialling 1471 in the event of a silent call" - the chances of being able to recognise the identity of a caller from the number given as CLI are remote. Using the callback feature of 1471 is generally expensive and unlikely to reveal the full identity of the caller. I would personally never advise anyone to call back to someone who has just made a Silent nuisance call to them; if the unknown purpose of call was perhaps malicious, this is the very last thing that one should do. The suggestion that it could be acceptable to leave a “trace” of who one is, rather than clearly stating one’s name when a call is answered, is quite ridiculous.
"... where a call has been identified by AMD technology as being picked up by an answer machine any repeat calls to that specific number within the same 24 hour period may only be made with the guaranteed presence of a live operator". This suggestion acknowledges that AMD technology is unreliable and a common cause of Silent Calls. The foolish feature of the suggestion to wait 24 hours before trying again ignores the fact that if a false detection has occurred once it is highly likely to occur again. Ofcom is actually encouraging a pattern of one Silent Call per day from a Silent Caller.

Seven years after I succeeded in getting Ofcom to launch its first investigation into a Silent Caller who had been calling me (which led only to approval of a limited number of Silent Calls being made - 10,000 per day in the case in question) I am somewhat dismayed to find that Ofcom is still approving the practice of making Silent Calls.

I accept that Ofcom does not have the resources to identify and penalise every Silent Caller. Writing to them to tell them that it is OK to make Silent Calls is a quite different matter.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Public service providers must immediately cease using "BUSINESS RATE" telephone numbers

Ofcom announcement

Ofcom has published a consultation on proposals for the future regulation of non-geographic telephone numbers - Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers.

The published information includes a comprehensive analysis of the current costs of calling 0845 and 0844 numbers. 1 This clearly demonstrates that the cost of calling these numbers (now designated "Business Rate") is greater than that of calling "Geographic Rate" numbers for most callers.

Legacy regulation has caused BT landline customers to benefit from a discount when calling these numbers. Ofcom proposes that this special treatment, which does not apply to users of other landlines, mobiles or payphones, be ended.

NHS Regulations

Any NHS body or GP seeking to pretend that their 0844 or 0845 number is not more expensive to call is now seen to be engaged in a deliberate or misguided deceit. Because the NHS is a universal service, such determinations cannot be made using the limited assumption that all patients are BT customers who do not have a call plan in place when calling.

Directions to NHS bodies give them until Tuesday 21 December 2010 to review this matter and make alternative arrangements. In some cases, it may be too late to do the latter, but there can be no excuse for not now declaring an intention to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

Revisions to their NHS contract give GPs until 31 March 2011 to do the same. It must be noted that telephone service providers allow the option to migrate to 03 ("Geographic rate") numbers within the term of their contracts. Associated telephone systems are supported equally by 03 and 084 numbers, so there is no requirement to consider use of a particular system when selecting the type of telephone number, 03 ("Geographic rate") or 084 ("Business rate"), to use.

Bundled tariff

The Ofcom document explains that the present cost of calling 0845 and 0844 numbers (along with many others) includes two "bundled" elements:

1.The "service charge" - to the benefit of the Service Provider (the user of the number).
2.The "access charge" - retained by the telephone company originating the call.

Ofcom proposes that these costs be unbundled

Under Ofcom's proposals, NHS Direct, HMRC and DWP agencies would be required to present the cost of calling their 0845 numbers as follows:

"Calls to (0845 4647 / 0845 3000 627 / 0845 604 3719) 2 cost 2p per minute plus your phone company’s access charge".

For 0844 numbers, as used by many GPs, the presentation would be:

"Calls to the surgery on 0844 4771799 3 cost 5p per minute plus your phone company's access charge."

These statements would simply represent the truth as it exists today, notwithstanding the fact that the phone company access charge element is currently totally opaque, highly variable and unrelated to the cost of calling an ordinary (geographic rate) number. The "service charge" element exists today - the Ofcom proposals are simply for it to be made transparent, by regulation.

NHS and other public service providers that may not levy a "service charge" for telephone contact must immediately desist from use of what are now designated as "Business Rate" numbers. Citizens do not engage with NHS providers, HMRC or the DWP agencies on commercial terms.

It is for businesses to determine whether or not they are content for it to be seen that they are levying a charge for access to certain services provided by telephone. Taxpayer-funded service providers cannot be seen to be levying a second charge, on service users.

Geographic rate numbers

Ofcom confirms that only 01, 02 and 03 numbers may be considered to be charged at "Geographic rate". The historic link which once applied to 0845 numbers, BUT ONLY EVER FOR BT LANDLINE CUSTOMERS, will be finally broken.

Only those Service Providers who serve only BT landline customers can claim a link between 0845 calls and geographic rates, until such time as the changes proposed by Ofcom are implemented.

Those who require non-geographic numbers, but cannot present them as being proper to be charged at "Business Rate" or "Premium Rate", must adopt "Geographic rate" 03 numbers.

For ease of migration, the 0344 and 0345 equivalent number for each 0844 and 0845 numbers is reserved. Such migration is permitted by telephone companies within the term of an existing contract for telephone service.

Where considerable cost may be involved in fully changing a number, a sensible pragmatic approach is to offer 0344 or 0345 alternatives as a standard, possibly covering many numbers, operating in parallel with the 0844 or 0845 equivalents and advised as such, as a general principle.

I see the option of parallel operation (0845 / 0345) as particularly suitable for NHS Direct, where the cost of a complete number change would be highly inappropriate as 0845 4647/0345 4647 has only a limited remaining life.

Parallel operation would also be most appropriate for the many 0845 numbers used by HMRC and all DWP agencies. Major number changes are planned for the future and tight budgets make it most suitable to simply issue a general advice that any 0845 number may be replaced with the 0345 equivalent.

To provide full information, HMRC and DWP could make the following statement at present:

"All 'Business rate' 0845 numbers are subject to a service charge of 2p per minute. This is in addition to the access charge levied by your telephone company, which may also include a call connection fee. Current access charges are known to vary from -2p per minute to +38p per minute." 4

If adopting my recommended approach, the following could be added:

"To contact us at 'Geographic rate', call our 0345 alternative numbers. Simply replace the 0845 with 0345 and dial the remainder of the number as quoted."

Circulation of these comments

These comments are published in my blogs 5, and as a general media release. They are circulated to relevant personnel in the NHS 6, HMRC and DWP, to MPs and to others concerned with the issues of fairness and propriety that are brought most clearly into focus by the Ofcom announcements.

I also include members of the "Non-Geographic Numbers Review Team" at Ofcom (NGCSReview@ofcom.org.uk) who will, I am sure, be happy to confirm the points I make here.

I will be pleased to assist with any further information and comment.

David Hickson


1.See http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/nongeo/summary/non-geo.pdf  - Tables A2.4 & A2.5 (p140) vs. A2.7 & A2.8 (p147).
2.The numbers quoted are as follows:
0845 4647 - NHS Direct - telephone health advice and information service
0845 3000 627 - HM Revenue and Customs - for enquiries about tax over/under -payments
0845 604 3719 - JobCentre Plus - to contact any Jobcentre
3.The number quoted is that used make an appointment with NHS practising GP - Dr Richard Vautrey - Deputy Chairman of the BMA General Practitioners Committee.
Dr Vautrey is a strong public advocate of the use of "Business Rate" numbers for provision of NHS services. We exchanged views on this issue on the Radio 4 Today programme 2 years ago.
The BMA GPC also advocates a service charge for telephone calls to some NHS providers and encourages exploitation of the "Confusion about the price" which the Ofcom proposals seek to address (see GPC GUIDANCE: USE OF 084 NUMBERS IN THE NHS).
4.The maximum charge for calling a 0845 number is given by Ofcom as 40p per minute, as at August 2010. Prices will be reviewed to reflect the increase in VAT to apply from 5 January 2011.
5.NHS.Patient blog, Public Services Campaigner blog, Media Releases blog.
6.My NHS.Patient website includes lists of NHS service providers using Business Rate numbers - NHS Bodies and GPs.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Government and the NHS must stop using "Business Rate" telephone numbers, where the call charge includes a "service charge"

Ofcom has today published extensive information about 0845 and 0844 telephone numbers - Simplifying Non-Geographic Numbers.

This includes proposals to rename these ranges as "business rate" and to require the call charges to be "unbundled", so that the "access charge" paid to the telephone service provider is separated from the "service charge" to the benefit of the user of the number.

This is a long overdue clarification and simplification of what is happening today. The proposed change is only in how the situation is presented.

Many NHS service providers, HMRC and DWP agencies use 0845 and 0844 "business rate" numbers. It is now clearly revealed that the charges for calling these numbers include a "service charge". Once this is declared separately, "unbundled", it will become quite clear that use of such numbers is quite improper, except where a service fee may fairly be levied for the call.

The 03 range will remain available for those who require "non-geographic" numbers that are charged at the standard "geographic" rate. All public bodies must recognise the need to move to 03 numbers immediately. The direct equivalent alternative 0345 and 0344 numbers are available and may be adopted at any time (within the term of an existing telephone service contract). Where appropriate these alternative numbers may be operated in parallel to save the expense of total number changes.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Ofcom continues to fail to address the problem of Silent Calls

From: David Hickson - Stop Silent Calls campaigner

In its summary of its Consumer Experience Report 2010 (Telecoms complaints fall – but challenges remain) Ofcom reports that complaints about Silent Calls are running at record levels. It has however failed to use the statutory powers that it holds to simply notify the offender of what it calls "a breach of the rules" since October 2008.

This can only mean that every one of the 6,600 complaints received in 2009 and the 8,600 in 2010 to date was about a company making Silent Calls within the generous allowance that Ofcom's policy permits. Ofcom says that it will "continue with our policy of enforcement", however there is only one company which Ofcom has made subject to use of its statutory powers of enforcement.

BBC Watchdog recently highlighted BT and British Gas as being amongst the companies making Silent Calls. They both claim to be doing so within the terms of what BT calls "the Ofcom Persistent Misuse Policy". Ofcom clearly agrees, as neither has been notified of a breach; I therefore agree with BT's choice of terminology to describe the Policy.

Ofcom refers to a change of policy that will be implemented on 1 February 2011. This policy suggests that those who make a Silent Call (when caused by use of obsolete and ineffective Answering Machine Detection technology) should repeat the call on successive days. Ofcom's suggestion that "companies will no longer be able to call consumers without the guaranteed presence of a live operator more than once a day" is complete nonsense.

Ofcom does not have the authority to impose such a rule as a general requirement - it can only do so in specific cases, following a Notification of Persistent Misuse. As stated above, Ofcom has only ever used this power once in relation to Silent Calls. Furthermore, Ofcom has no way of monitoring or enforcing such a requirement.

It may be that some companies will follow this policy. The cases reported by Watchdog indicate that the problem with repetition is having every day predictably blighted with suspicion every time the phone rings. The fundamental problem with an intended limitation on repetition is that it confirms tolerance of every initial instance. Ofcom's actual policy, if applied, will simply ensure that more people get a single Silent Call on any particular day.

The fundamental point that Ofcom has always failed to grasp is that NO CALL SHOULD RESULT IN SILENCE from the caller. A tolerance limit of 3% and of only one per person per day is simply an unacceptable tolerance of Silent Calls. Under Ofcom's policy, this is what has to be exceeded for even the first stage of its statutory powers to be used. The potential for a severe fine, which is available at the third stage of use of the powers, may sound impressive. If however companies such as BT and British Gas admitting to making Silent Calls and over 15,000 complaints can fail to cause even the first stage to be used, then Ofcom cannot claim to be addressing the problem effectively.

There will always be cowboys and offshore operators that Ofcom will have difficulty in detecting and acting against. It cannot be seen to be fulfilling its duty when it permits and even encourages large responsible UK companies to make Silent Calls.

No Silent Call is necessary.

Those who use predictive diallers can use an "Informative Message" when a system failure exceptionally leads to there being no agent available to handle an answered call. This is referred to, but poorly specified and not mandated, by Ofcom.

Answering Machine Detection has failed to be effective since general use of tape recorders was replaced by use of network based answering services. Ofcom is wrong to oppose the potential introduction of Answering Service Detection as an effective means of ensuring that calls have been answered by a person. Ofcom is yet more wrong to encourage the use of the obsolete Answering Machine Detection technology, on the spurious and irrelevant grounds that the money saved as a result of inevitably making Silent Calls leads to reduced prices for consumers in the markets for energy and other products and services.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Homeserve investigates improper telephone marketing - Ofcom and the Information Commissioner are seen to have lost the plot

According to an article published by FT.com - "Homeserve to probe phone campaign", Homeserve is to conduct an internal investigation into the activities of one of its marketing agencies, which leaves repeated marketing messages on the telephone answering services used by prospective customers. (See my clipped summary.)

It seems that these messages are abusing a technique, which I successfully promoted back in 2005, designed to prevent Silent Calls without prohibiting the use of automated dialling equipment. This "Informative Message" technique has already been abused by Ofcom, which uses it as the basis for permitting 3% of calls to result in Silence.

Consent to use of the "Informative Message" was negotiated between Ofcom and the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO), both of which are quoted in the FT article. If the quotes are genuine and complete, then both bodies have missed the point.

Ofcom suggests that automated callers are able to distinguish between calls that are answered in person and those directed to answering services, as it claims that its policy is based on such an assumption. This is nonsense, there is no reliable means of doing so in use.

Ofcom actively opposes the introduction of a technique ("Answering Service Detection") that could address this. Furthermore, Ofcom approves and promotes the use of an obsolete, unreliable method of detecting mechanical answering machines ("Answering Machine Detection"). Ofcom has even had to add a proviso that the inevitable Silent Calls are repeated on successive days, rather than all on one day - it seems that this is exactly what this caller has done.

The ICO refers to there being no requirement to deliver recorded marketing messages. It fails to mention that such messages are totally prohibited by the terms of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (regulation 19), which it enforces. This prohibition applies regardless of registration with the Telephone Preference Service!


Please contact me for further information and comment on this story and related issues. The issues are inevitably complex, so please bear with me as I seek to assist with attempts to untangle a web of regulatory provisions.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

One NHS hospital finally gives up its expensive 084 telephone numbers - what about the rest?

From: David Hickson – campaigner for the NHS, and for equity in access to public services

A media release from the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, announces the end of its use of expensive 0844 telephone numbers starting from 4 December.

Local MP, and Minister of State for Health, Simon Burns, will doubtless be delighted at this news.

NHS bodies must cease using expensive numbers by 21 December 2010

Mr Burns may however be less keen to acknowledge that his Department has failed to get the many other NHS bodies still using expensive 084 telephone numbers to comply with a Direction for them to cease the practice by 21 December 2010.

NHS Direct is a special case, as its 0845 4647 number is due to be shut down within the next five years. The cost and confusion of a complete number change would not therefore be appropriate at this point. The 0345 4647 alternative, which is set up and ready, should therefore be brought into use alongside to operate in parallel. (This approach of using equivalent 034 numbers in parallel is appropriate for many other situations – all 03 numbers are charged on the same basis as calls to ordinary geographic numbers from every type of telephone service and contract.)

NHS GPs must cease using expensive numbers by 31 March 2011

Many GPs use expensive 084 telephone numbers. As they will shortly be taking responsibility for applying the principles of the NHS locally, they should be able to set an example to the hospitals, whose services they will be commissioning.

They have been subjected to a contract revision, requiring them to cease use of expensive telephone numbers by 31 March 2011. This is however not happening.

The BMA advises its members not to give up their 084 numbers. It has a policy that patients should pay for access to NHS services, according to the quality of the service provided.

Primary Care Trusts currently enforce the principles of the NHS

Until GPs take over their new responsibilities, it is for Primary Care Trusts to ensure that GPs fulfil the terms of their contract with the NHS and that commissioned NHS providers comply with the Directions from the Department of Health. To my knowledge, not one PCT is demanding that NHS GPs, Hospitals, Dentists, Pharmacists or Ophthalmologists give up their 084 telephone numbers.

The appropriate Minister, whether this be Simon Burns, Andrew Lansley or Earl Howe, must remind PCTs of their duty to the patients they serve. Centrally imposed micro-management through PCTs may have no place in the NHS of the future, however its principles must be retained and adherence to those principles enforced.

My message to Simon Burns, Andrew Lansley and the rest of the government

If Health Service providers are to continue to receive subsidy through use of revenue sharing 084 telephone numbers, thereby inevitably at the expense of patients, then that is not the NHS whose enduring principles we recently celebrated on its 60th birthday. The coming deadlines give the government a chance to show us where it stands.

·       Does "Liberating the NHS" mean freeing providers from a duty to adhere to the principles of the NHS, by allowing them to fund services at the expense of patients as they access them? A failure to ensure compliance with the current deadlines for abandonment of expensive telephone numbers would suggest that it does.

·       Mid Essex Hospitals has chosen to re-affirm the principle of free at the point of need. Should not all other NHS providers be seen to be compelled to do the same!


1.    A list of NHS bodies in England using 084 telephone numbers is published on my "NHS Patient" web site at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/davidhickson/NHS.Patient/NHS%20Hospitals.htm. Please contact me for qualification of a few cases where changes are in hand.

2.    Lists of GPs in the UK using 0844 telephone numbers are published on my "NHS Patient" web site at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/davidhickson/NHS.Patient/0844%20GPs.htm. There are some more cases where 0844 numbers have been adopted whilst the matter has been under review.

3.    I will be happy to provide further briefing and comment to anyone concerned to maintain the NHS or reporting on its possible demise. I will be happy to engage in debate with anyone who does not see the NHS as being a universal service, where all are treated equally, or who believes that the time for such a service has passed.

4.    I am also engaged on exactly the same issue with expensive 084 telephone numbers, as it applies to HMRC, DWP agencies and other public services.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

111 in chaos - the fee charging 0845 4647 NHS Direct number will remain for many years - but there is an alternative

From: David Hickson – campaigner for the NHS

A published letter from Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health to Stephen Dorrell, Chair of the Health Committee of Parliament, shows that plans for the new NHS 111 telephone service are in chaos.

Firstly, there is confusion about what the new service will provide, as against the telephone services currently offered by NHS Direct.

NHS Direct offers a telephone Health Advice, Information and Reassurance service, covering urgent and non-urgent issues. The 111 service was conceived and planned to address ONLY URGENT matters. There is however considerable doubt about whether this is what will be expected by callers. 111 is described in the letter simply as a “non-emergency” NHS telephone line, with no specific reference to the exclusion of non-urgent matters, as marking one of the differences between the new service and that currently in place. This exclusion is however seen to be a key factor (by repeated references to “urgent” in quoted materials) in making the dispersed and free-to-call 111 cheaper to run than the centralised and patient-subsidised NHS Direct service. There may well be a sizeable gap between what is covered by funding and what is expected.

Secondly, it is stated that the wholly conceptual "GP consortia", expected to emerge to serve every part of England, will be established in time and be ready and able to commission and adopt a conformant local 111 service by 2013, in every case. It is perhaps "optimistic" to assume so early a deadline for completion of the total roll-out, before the pilots have been evaluated so that the issues of mandatory service standards and levels of funding can be resolved. The legislation to create the consortia that will design and commission each local service has not yet been laid before parliament, and many of the “willing providers” will be new social enterprises that have not yet been established.

Andrew Lansley offers a firm assurance that the NHS Direct service, on 0845 4647, will not be withdrawn until the roll-out of 111 has been completed. There must therefore be a strong likelihood that 0845 4647 will remain in use for very many years to come - at least until 2013, and probably well beyond. Every call to that number is subsidised at the rate of about 1.7p per minute, for which callers incur a surcharge of up to 40p per minute above the cost, if any, of an ordinary call. Although, under the terms of their telephone service calls package, many callers pay nothing extra to make an additional call to an ordinary number, 111 has been set up so that the NHS provider pays the telephone companies the full cost for every incoming call. In addition to the cost of the switching equipment used to route every call made to a single national number to the correct local service, this is one of a number of costs that will make the take-up of the 111 service difficult to achieve. It is not clear that each consortium will be able to see the financial benefit (if any) of adopting the 111 service in place of that offered by NHS Direct.

The Department of Health has explicitly exempted NHS Direct from a Direction to all NHS bodies to cease using telephone numbers that are more expensive to call than a geographic number. Whilst the 28% of telephone calls made from BT landlines benefit from the perverse effects of legacy regulation, THE VAST MAJORITY OF TELEPHONE CALLS TO 0845 NUMBERS ARE MORE EXPENSIVE than those to geographic numbers. This certainly applies to all calls from Mobiles, Public Payphones and Virgin Media landlines. All of these services are used by NHS Patients, who retain the same right to access to treatment without charge under the terms of the NHS Constitution. Although BT provides telephone service to NHS Direct, its customers should not be entitled to special terms for access to NHS treatment, perhaps especially as this causes customers of other telephone service providers to incur a surcharge when accessing NHS services.

Under the terms of this Direction, all NHS bodies, except for NHS Direct, are required to cease use of 0845 and 0844 numbers by 21 December 2010. Many are leaving it very late, or are content for some patients with telephone service from BT to benefit, at the expense of other patients!

As 0845 4647 has only perhaps 5 or more years to run in England (it will continue in Wales), it is reasonable that it is not immediately withdrawn to be replaced by another number. There is however no reason why the 0345 4647 alternative could not be brought into use in parallel immediately. This number has been set up and ready for use for over two years now. All providers of all types of telephone service, by regulation, do not charge any more than the cost of a call to a geographic number to call 03 numbers - where a package applies, it applies to 03 calls on the same basis as geographic calls.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

National Audit Office attacks Ofcom's failure on Silent Calls

From: David Hickson - campaigner against Silent Calls

A report from the National Audit Office, Ofcom: The effectiveness of converged regulation, published today, attacks Ofcom's failure to address the issue of Silent Calls.

Despite fines issued following investigations undertaken in 2007, Ofcom has not subsequently issued even one company with a simple Notification indicating that its practice of making Silent Calls represents a persistent misuse of a telecommunications network or service. Such a Notification may be followed by the imposition of an enforceable requirement to cease the practice and then a financial penalty in the event of a breach. The maximum level of penalty has recently been increased, but if nobody is breaking Ofcom's so-called "rules", which are currently in the course of being relaxed even further, then this cannot be expected to have any effect.

The NAO report looks at the levels of complaints about Silent Calls which are a potentially misleading indicator, as the peaks in levels of complaints are invariably associated with public discussion of the issue, i.e. an awareness of Ofcom's role. There is no evidence to show that the amount of nuisance being caused does not simply remain constant due to Ofcom's failure to use its statutory powers against those who perpetrate the nuisance. Despite often containing vital evidence of Silent Calls being made (10,000 instances in 2009) not one complaint (since 2007) has led to any use of Ofcom's powers.

A recent broadcast by BBC Watchdog (otherwise full of misinformation) suggested that the major perpetrators of the nuisance, e.g. British Gas and BT, are those who fully comply with Ofcom's tolerant and misguided policy of "regulation", which allows, and even encourages, the making of Silent Calls, under certain conditions.

The Ofcom policy on "Silent Calls" is a total disaster for the citizens that Ofcom has a duty to serve. During the period addressed by the NAO report, annual complaint levels have been rising, (5230, 7120, 7200, 9320) suggesting that the action taken has had no effect whatsoever.

The major problem in this area is with the convergence of Ofcom’s separate duties to further the interests of citizens in relation to communications matters,  which applies here, and it’s quite separate duty to regulate the market for communications services. Ofcom’s failure to understand the distinction makes it totally ineffective in the former role.

Please contact me for further comment, information and proposals. (There is more to read on my blog at http://scvictim.blogspot.com).


Tuesday, 9 November 2010

HMRC makes over half a million pounds a year by NOT answering telephone calls

From: David Hickson - campaigner for equity in the delivery of public services

Every call to the 0845 telephone numbers used by HMRC (and every other body that uses 0845 numbers) earns subsidy of its costs at the rate of around 1.7p per minute. The £5M HMRC earns in this way will not clear the public spending deficit, nor would one argue that it is a bad thing for public bodies to save money. The government should however only be taking our money through properly applied taxation, not by undeclared access charges levied on public service users.

When we call these numbers our telephone companies reflect this cost to them in premium charges on us. (BT alone is regulated, so that it cannot itself charge for these calls, it can only recover the premium. BT customers are only paying the premium. Regulation prevents them from also paying BT, except through its standard call setup fee.)

The answer to a parliamentary question, Revenue and Customs: Telephone Services - Written Answer - 11 October 2010, reveals some interesting statistics.

97.1 Million calls were made to the 0845 numbers used by the HMRC network of contact centres in the year to July 2010. 35.6 Million of these got no response.

I will make some (conservative) assumptions of the average durations for the three categories of call and the respective annual percentages given in the written answer:

·       Calls to an agent (54.2%) - 5 minutes

·       Calls to hear recorded information (9.1%) - 2 minutes

·       Calls which were never connected (36.7%) - 1 minute

Given these reasonable assumptions about call duration (which I am happy to revise if alternative data is provided) the annual subsidy earned by HMRC would be as follows:

·       From handling enquiries - £4,772,012 (97.1 M x ((54.2% x 5) + (9.1% x 2)) x £0.017)

·       From not handling enquiries - £605,739 (97.1 M x (36.7% x 1) x £0.017)

Not only is HMRC subsidising its costs at the expense of those whose call it by over £5 Million, HMRC is earning well over half a million pounds a year by NOT answering the telephone.

By failing to benefit from the low rates and inclusive packages available for calls to "normal" (01/02/03) numbers, callers in general are effectively paying far more than this in premium charges. (As stated above, BT callers are only paying the premium, either through the call charge or their package subscription.)

To end this unacceptable rip-off, HMRC and other public bodies using 0845 numbers, must adopt the 0345 equivalent numbers (charged as a "normal call" in all cases).

I propose that, for example, 0345 3000 627 be offered for 0845 3000 627. I calculate that this would save an additional cost to callers of around £27.5 Million a year, which dwarfs the £5.3 Million that HMRC is earning. Smart procurement, in conjunction with other public sector bodies, along with retention of the 0845 number for those who benefit from the perverse effect of regulation of BT, would mean that HMRC would not suffer anything like this in additional cost on making the alternative available.

This low-cost, quick and simple option is the perfect solution for the present environment when all budgets are under pressure and the expense of complex number changes is not worth considering. Instructions to swap the first "8" for a "3" in every published number would be easy to communicate. The equivalent 0345 numbers are all reserved and ready for use within the term of any existing contract for telephone service.

Friday, 22 October 2010

HMRC and DWP rip-off telephone numbers attacked by Watchdog

From: David Hickson – Public Services Campaigner

BBC Watchdog yesterday attacked the use of 0845 and other expensive telephone numbers by HMRC and DWP and many companies. (See the text and the clip)

The key point made was that public sector bodies (and commercial companies offering non-premium services) should now be using 03 numbers, which are charged at the rate applicable to calls to ordinary (01/02) numbers on every telephone tariff.

It was announced that both HMRC and DWP claim not to "make any revenue" from use of their 0845 numbers. If this means that they gain no financial advantage, then they would lose nothing in changing to 03, because they are currently being ripped-off by their telephone companies. The only difference for users of 03 numbers is that they lose the subsidy of their telephone systems, which those using 0845 numbers (should) have.

The cost and confusion of number changes could be avoided by simply offering the 0345 equivalent for every 0845 number. Simple announcements to the effect that the "8" could be swapped for a "3" would avoid the heavy cost of changing lots of paperwork and websites.

For example, those calling about the HMRC coding errors would be able to call 0345 3000 627, rather than 0845 3000 627. This call would be free for many mobile callers, much cheaper for others and furthermore it would avoid HMRC having to incur the cost and wasted effort involved in calling back after the caller had waited for their call to be answered - everybody wins!

N.B. The DWP claim quoted in the Watchdog blog entry - 0845 calls are charged at a "standard rate" - is a simple falsehood. The charge is unregulated and is seen to conform to no standard whatsoever. 40p a minute on a mobile, when ordinary calls may be free in a bundle, can hardly be called “standard”.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Consumer telephone rip-offs - the cost of complaining!

From: David Hickson - Campaigner against Telephone Misuse

Further to the comments quoted below, I can advise that the edition of "Watchdog" to be broadcast this evening will include an item on "the cost of complaining".

This will apparently cover the expensive telephone numbers used by Asda and EasyJet for their Customer Service operations.

I have no idea of how the programme will deal with the issue, as my offer of briefing has been declined.

I have contacted both of the companies and have obtained statements which I believe will be used in the programme. In both cases they are seriously flawed, as I will point out below:

EasyJet claims that an "average" call to its customer service number - 0871 244 2366 - of between 6 and 7 minutes costs 62p.

This is untrue. The advertised rate of 10p per minute applies only to BT landlines, which are uniquely subject to regulation that prohibits BT from making any money itself from the call. With BT, durations are rounded up and a 12p call set-up fee applies. The BT cost is therefore 82p.

All other providers make their own charge in addition to the money that is passed on to EasyJet. A cost of £2.80 is typical for a mobile.

Asda claims that its customer service number - 0844 481 5000 - is charged at "local call rates".

This never was true, not even before 2004, when there were distinct local rates. From BT, calls to local or national geographic numbers (as well as 03 numbers) are covered as inclusive within the customer's Call Plan. The regulated, no profit, rate from BT for the 0844 number, never covered by a call plan, is 5p per minute, plus the 12p call set-up fee.

All other providers make their own charge in addition to the money that is passed on to Asda. A cost of £40p per minute is typical for a mobile.

Asda claims that it will shortly be changing to a "free phone number". This is nonsense - there is no such thing. 080 numbers are free to call from landlines and payphones, but not from mobiles. Many mobile users enjoy inclusive (free) or bundled (some free) calls to geographic and 03 numbers, however 080 calls fall outside these terms (apart from certain very particular exceptions).

As I say, I have no idea about whether these errors will be identified or perhaps compounded in the broadcast. I do however hope that any further coverage of this matter will be properly informed.

It is not only public sector bodies, e.g. HMRC, DWP and NHS Direct, that are involved in the misuse of revenue sharing 084 telephone numbers. There are many private sector bodies which also use expensive telephone numbers in situations where the imposition of an "access fee" is probably not warranted.

It is totally improper for citizens to be required to pay an additional charge when calling a NHS provider, enquiring about benefits from DWP or asking for details of a tax calculation error from HMRC. Some might also think that it is unsatisfactory for a private company to levy a fee on consumers who are making a complaint or enquiry about its products and services.

BBC Watchdog has announced that it will be drawing attention to the issue in two sectors, as an item in the programme to be broadcast this evening. This programme meets its duty to entertain by picking on particular companies. I am anxious to draw attention to the fact that this practice is widespread in these sectors and in many others.

Using the types of telephone numbers listed below causes most callers, notably those calling from mobiles, to incur a premium charge. In all of these cases a 03 number would be more appropriate. Calls to all 03 numbers are charged at the rate, if any, for "normal" (geographic) calls from all telephones.

(With the exception of 0800 and 0870 numbers) in all of the cases of Customer Service lines listed below the call recipient benefits as a result of the premium paid by the caller. This is exactly the same situation as with the numbers used by many public bodies and the very many NHS GPs who use 0844 numbers.





Aldi, Asda:


BMIBaby, Ryanair:


M&S, Morrisons, Tesco:



Aer Lingus, Easyjet, FlyBe, Ryanair:



Co-op / Somerfield, Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose:






BA, Ryanair, BMIBaby:



In all of these cases, the special low rates which apply only to the less than 28% of non-business calls made from BT landlines, are atypical of the cost which callers generally incur. Because BT is uniquely prohibited by regulation from making money from its rates for landline calls to Non-Geographic Call Service numbers, it is absurd to quote a BT rate (commonly omitting the 12p call set-up fee) and then suggesting that "others may vary", when it is BT that is the one exception to the norm.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Government wastes money by charging for public services

Many government departments and public bodies continue to pay for their telephone systems by ripping-off service users. They use “revenue-generating” 084 telephone numbers, when they should be following strong advice to use "cost neutral" 03 numbers.

They then compound, not correct, their error by calling back to those who incur high charges, notably mobile users. This simply wastes time and money, as the caller has already paid at a premium rate to make the call, when in many cases it could have been free. This rip-off and waste of public money must be ended, swiftly, by adopting a simple solution.

Probably the worst, of many, examples are as follows:

HM Revenue and Customs   0845 3000 627   for enquiries about tax over/under -payments
JobCentre Plus   0845 604 3719   to contact any Jobcentre
NHS Direct    0845 4647    for the telephone health advice and information service

To save money for callers, and for all taxpayers, they should immediately adopt the equivalent 03 alternative numbers, e.g. 0345 3000 627 / 0345 604 3719 / 0345 4647.

These are all reserved and available for immediate use under existing arrangements with telephone companies, and will enable use of exactly the same facilities.

03 numbers guarantee that callers pay no more than the cost of an ordinary call (to a 01/02) number. In many cases this is covered by their inclusive package or bundle - i.e. it is free. 0845 calls are generally subject to a premium – e.g. 40p per minute from mobiles.
NHS Direct advises all students to save its 0845 number on their mobile phone!

Radical measures are needed to save money swiftly, as all budgets are now under pressure. Rather than incurring the cost of a change to a completely new 03 number, the 0345 equivalent numbers should simply be made available for use alongside the 0845 numbers. Unnecessary callbacks to those who can call the 0345 number for free must be halted.

Please see the further points below, and contact me for further information and comment.

Further points

The Central Office of Information confirms that the full cost of handling calls to 084 numbers is picked up by the caller, whereas with 03 numbers the caller only pays for their own share of the use of the telephone network. (see the COI statement below)

The COI also advises that revenue-generating numbers, such as 084, should not be used, unless there is a clear reason for doing so.

It is for NHS Direct, HMRC and the DWP agencies to explain their reasons for imposing access fees on service users. The cost to the taxpayer of a callback (after the caller has already paid for the initial call) does not remove this fee, it simply adds greater expense, wiping out the improper benefit that is being obtained.

BT is uniquely prohibited by regulation from making money on landline calls to 084 numbers - all of the charge it levies is passed on the person being called. This only applies to BT landlines, which are used for less than 28% of non-business telephone calls. Mobile callers benefit from relatively cheap rates for calls to ordinary (01/02/03) numbers, in most cases they are covered by bundles and packages, whereas calls to 084 numbers are always charged at a high rate, i.e. 30-40p per minute. Public payphone users pay 60p for a call of up to 30 minutes to an ordinary (01/02/03) number; a 15-minute call to a 0845 number costs £3.40. Other landline callers do not benefit from the regulations which cover only BT subscribers; Virgin Media charges 11p plus 10p per minute for 0845 calls, when calls to ordinary (01/02/03) numbers are included in packages.

Quoting BT landline rates as an example, when they are exceptionally cheap due to unique regulation, is, at best, misleading.

NHS Direct continues to fail to make available the 0345 4647 number which has been set up ready for use for over 2 years now. This failure is seen to be more foolish and insensitive in the context of a recent suggestion – “Students are advised to store NHS Direct’s number – 0845 4647 – in their mobile” (see link below). Most students will have finished their courses before the more limited (free to call) 111 replacement service is available to them. NHS Direct continues to provide a model for the many other NHS service providers who retain their 084 numbers, despite directions and contract revisions which should have brought this improper practice to an end.

When invited to comment on the excessive cost of calling 0845 numbers from mobiles, rather than from BT landlines, NHS Direct said "The cost of calling NHS Direct from a mobile varies between networks, and the mobile phone user can check the cost of 0845 calls with their provider".

As well as declaring ignorance of the actual cost of calling it from a mobile, NHS Direct thinks it relevant to point out that callers only pay its telephone bill; they do not provide it with additional revenue, through a revenue sharing arrangement. (see the NHS Direct statement below.)

Notes and references

1. The Central Office of Information has issued the following statement:

"COI issues Contact Centre guidance which strongly advises that revenue generating tariffs, including 0870, should not be used for government activity unless there is a clear reason for doing so.  Our guidance is available to all departments and public bodies, but while we offer clear advice we cannot enforce against the use of these tariffs.

"Different non geographical number rates are available for government departments and public bodies to use via COI's contract with BT. The cost of calls for the caller depend on the type of number used. For example, the department picks up the full cost of 0800 number calls, the cost is split between the caller and the department for 0300 / 0303 number calls, and the full cost of 0845 /0844 numbers are picked up by the caller.

"The COI contract with BT allows departments to change their number/s and often departments chose to retain the end of their existing number as part of a transfer."

Rhona de la Mer

Senior Press and Marketing Manager
Corporate Communications and Marketing

Central Office of Information
Hercules House, London, SE1 7DU
t:  020 7261 8306

e: rhona.delamer@coi.gsi.gov.uk

w: coi.gov.uk

2. NHS Direct has issued the following statement:

The cost of calling NHS Direct from a mobile varies between networks, and the mobile phone user can check the cost of 0845 calls with their provider. Alongside the telephone service, NHS Direct provides online services which are free to use and, if appropriate, can lead to a call-back from a nurse at no cost to the patient. The purpose of this press release was to remind students of the services we offer, which we know are extremely popular with students.

“NHS Direct does not receive any revenue from calls to our 0845 4647 number. NHS Direct uses BT for provision of its 0845 number under the centrally negotiated COI tariff. This tariff does not make provision for revenue share on 0845 numbers."

Lisa Gaskell

Media and External Affairs Manager

NHS Direct


020 7599 4223

until Wednesday 27 October, contact Safiya Waley on 020 7599 4260

3. The NHS Direct press release including the statement "Students are advised to store NHS Direct’s number – 0845 4647 – in their mobile" is published at http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/News/LatestNews/StudentHealthAdvice.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Ofcom continues to Tolerate Silent Calls

Ofcom has today revised its policy on Silent Calls to include a further formal tolerance of Silent Calls - see this press release.

6,600 complaints about Silent Calls in 2009, 6,800 in 2010 and 22 secret investigations recently conducted by Ofcom has led to not one company being found to be practising Persistent Misuse of a Telecommunications Network or Service, under the terms of Ofcom's policy of tolerance.

Ofcom's policy already permits call centres to make as many Silent Calls as they wish, so long as they make enough non-Silent calls on the same day (the "3% rule"). It now says that the Silent Calls which inevitably result from use of obsolete note Answering Machine Detection technology are OK, but must be spread around different people on any one day.

These "new rules" mean that the 2 Million people who Ofcom believe are subject to repeat Silent Calls will now have to wait at least 24 hours after receiving one Silent Call from a company before they receive the next from that company. One Silent Call per day is fine, but two in a day from the same company may cause a penalty of £2 Million pounds to be imposed.

THIS IS COMPLETE NONSENSE. It has nothing to do with Ofcom meeting the expectations of parliament, expressed in 2006 as "we expect you to use your powers to eradicate the nuisance of Silent Calls". In 2010, parliament expressed the wish for more about this matter to be explained to the public.

I ask Ofcom to explain to the public:

·       Why were all of these complaints found not to warrant even a single Notification of Misuse, let alone a penalty?

·       Who are these 22 companies that Ofcom has permitted to continue making Silent Calls under its policy of tolerance?

·       If Ofcom is happy for 2 Million people to continue to suffer Silent Calls caused by failed use of Answering Machine Detection (although now spread out over a longer period), how many suffer Silent Calls as a result of the 3% rule?

·       Can we please have an open debate about why Ofcom thinks that any Silent Calls are "necessary" and should be tolerated?

It is perfectly possible for the call centre industry to continue to be productive and effective without making Silent Calls. By tolerating Silent Calls, Ofcom is not only damaging the interests of citizens, it is also damaging the reputation of an industry on which many people rely for work.

Please contact me for further comment and details of why Silent Calls are not only unacceptable, but also unnecessary.


Ofcom dismisses the argument that we should now recognise mechanical Answering Machines are now less common than use of network based Answering Services. The industry should be encouraged to move over to totally reliable Answering Service  Detection (ASD) in place of AMD. Many leading players have already abandoned AMD becuase they believe that it diminishes their cost effectiveness (as well as inevitably causing Silent Calls).

Friday, 24 September 2010

Most Silent Callers will NOT be fined £2M from tomorrow

I refer to a BIS Department news release stating – “Firms which pester consumers with silent and abandoned calls will be fined up to £2million from tomorrow under new Government legislation".

This is untrue. Ofcom only takes action against those who breach its "rules". These rules allow up to 3% of all calls made to be Silent. Anyone making enough calls in total can cause as much of this type of nuisance as they wish.

For example, the Conservative Party made "over a million" calls in the run up to the General Election. Over 30,000 of these could have been abandoned in silence with no fear of action from Ofcom. Ed Vaizey has told parliament that he is "happy to accept" this.

Despite receiving many thousands of complaints since 2007, Ofcom has not found one company to have broken its rules since then. All of this nuisance must therefore have Ofcom's approval. 22 unnamed companies have been secretly investigated, but not one has even received a Notification of Persistent Misuse - the first stage of Ofcom's powers, which must precede imposition of a financial penalty.

I ask: "What difference will a greater penalty make, when the power to "name and shame" has always existed, but not been used in respect of any Silent Call made since 2007?"

Most, if not all, of those who make Silent Calls will continue to enjoy Ofcom's approval. They will not even be named and shamed, let alone subjected to any penalty."

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

At last, the call centre industry wants to stop making Silent Calls - but a government minister says they are OK

Stop Silent Calls campaigner David Hickson has offered his strong support for the "Love the Beep" campaign launched by Richard Woollaston of Altitude Software, call centre technology provider, at www.lovethebeep.org.uk.

This campaign aims to replace the obsolete and ineffective Answering Machine Detection technology (AMD), which is probably the major cause of Silent Calls, with Answering Service Detection (ASD) technology. The campaign proposes that callers who only wish to speak to a person should use a detectable beep provided by answering services as the basis for deciding whether or not to hang up. This is so much better than the present method used by many call centres, which involves inviting the recipient to provide a brief sample of their voice to a piece of technology, which will guess as to whether it is live or recorded before decided whether to connect an agent or hang up in silence. (The invitation is not generally announced and consent is assumed.)

Ofcom continues to approve and support the use of this old technology which was designed to detect the clicks and whirrs of mechanical answering machines. This inevitably mistakes real people for answering services and subjects them to Silent Calls. Ofcom describes this as being innovative, and in the public interest, and will therefore be shortly changing its "rules" on Silent Calls to explicitly permit one a day from each caller to each victim.

David Hickson comments: "I have always wondered why the call centre industry has not been looking for an effective way of detecting Answering Services. I cannot understand why it persists in focussing on Answering Machines, which are never used on mobiles and rarely now on landlines. I am delighted that it has at last made progress and look forward to hearing which companies will now stop making Silent Calls using the old technology, despite having acquired Ofcom's approval.

"I fully support this campaign and want to identify which answering service providers, call centres and users of 'outbound' services do not. Perhaps Ofcom will eventually change its mind and stop approving of Silent Calls, and started treating them as the ‘persistent misuse of a telecommunications network or service’ which most of us think them to be. ...

Government minister says 30,000 Silent Calls from a political party is OK

"I wonder if making 'a million calls in the run up' to the General Election using Altitude systems (as reported at this link) resulted in many Silent Calls. Compliance with the Ofcom policy would have allowed up to 30,000."

It may be of significance that during a recent debate in parliament, a government minister confirmed that he agreed with the Ofcom tolerance of 3% of calls resulting in silence. (Refer to Clip2 at this link.) Apparently he would have been happy for a political party to have recently made 30,000 Silent Calls, with no fear of action by Ofcom.

Monday, 20 September 2010

BBC and NHS Direct - Victories for the campaign against rip-off telephone numbers - an example to follow

Longstanding defenders of expensive telephone numbers are now relenting
Two major examples have been moved to "03" numbers, but there is more to do.

Unlike revenue sharing and premium rate 08 numbers, all 03xx calls are charged as for an ordinary "geographic" (01/02) number, and included in packages on the same basis. (This applies to landlines, mobiles and payphones from every provider.)

·       BBC "Question Time" announced its new audience application number 0330 123 99 88, on Thursday. This replaced 0871 626 99 88.

·       The NHS Direct NHS Trust now uses 0345 60 88888 for The (Choose and Book) Appointments Line, in place of 0845 60 88888.

·       The direct equivalent 0345 number is available for every 0845 number. It may be adopted as an alternative or replacement at any time, with minimal cost and confusion.

David Hickson, campaigner for equity in access to public services, commented:

"Both the BBC and the NHS Direct NHS Trust are to be congratulated, as campaigners who have fought them for years over these numbers now celebrate. They and other public service providers do however have much more work to do in moving 0845 numbers onto 0345. This saves money for them and their callers.

Callers pay up to 25p per minute extra to call 0845, rather than 0345, numbers. NHS Direct must know this, because of the change it has made.

The cost of a complete number change for the core NHS Direct service on 0845 4647 is inappropriate. It has been announced that this service will be withdrawn altogether if and when 111 is implemented fully. 0345 4647 should be simply switched on now to work in parallel for the 3 or more years that the core NHS Direct service will continue to operate.

Other 0845 users, notably HRMC (using 0845 3000 627 for enquiries about tax code errors) and the DWP (using 0845 604 3719 for jobseekers and 0845 606 0265 for pensioners) should follow this example.

The BBC must address the 0845 numbers used by many local BBC services.”


1.            There is lots more information in my blogs. Specific comment on the items mentioned above are available at these links:
          BBC Question Time          The Appointments Line          NHS Direct         HMRC          DWP

2.            The modest benefit acquired from revenue sharing on 0845 numbers is more than offset by the additional cost to callers. The DWP and other 0845 users always offer to call back, because these numbers are expensive for most callers. The cost of callbacks to every caller who suffers a surcharge far exceeds any possible loss of revenue sharing benefit. Both public service users and the exchequer benefit from a switch from 0845 to 0345.

3.            The BBC stations listed below all use 0845 numbers for phone-ins and enquiries. I have a list of 19 others which do not.

  • BBC Radio Bristol
  • BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
  • BBC Coventry & Warwickshire
  • BBC Radio Cumbria
  • BBC Radio Derby
  • BBC Devon
  • BBC Radio Essex
  • BBC Hereford & Worcester
  • BBC Radio Kent News
  • BBC Radio Lancashire
  • BBC Radio Leeds
  • BBC Radio Oxford
  • BBC Radio Solent
  • BBC Radio Somerset
  • BBC Radio Suffolk
  • BBC Radio Sussex
  • BBC Radio Three Counties
  • BBC Radio Wiltshire
  • BBC Radio WM

Yahoo Media Player Instructions

Listening to sound clips

(For a full catalogue of radio and other sound items, visit Radio / Sound Player)

Links to sound clips in blog postings will appear with a play/pause button alongside them in the text.
Click on the button to hear the item.

The player controls will appear at the bottom left corner of the screen.
Explore the options and features.

  • To minimise; click on right hand button.
  • To close after use; click on "x".
  • For details about the item hover the mouse over the title.
  • Help with entering comments

    • All comments are subject to moderation

    • Anonymous comments are unlikely to be published

    • If no "id", use the Name/URL option - the URL is optional

    • A contact email address (entered with the name) will enable private dialogue


    Blog Archive by Date

    View Blog by Label

    NHS (99) Ofcom (1) Parl (6) PSC (44) SC (29)

    Search This Blog