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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

News Alert - "premium rate telephone numbers" - announcement expected

Health Questions, Tuesday 12 July 2:30 pm
"(8) ... the use by GP surgeries of premium rate telephone numbers"

It is hoped that in answer to this, the 8th question on the Order Paper, the Health Minister will confirm that many PCTs are misinterpreting the terms of GP contracts by continuing to permit use of 084 telephone numbers, on quite spurious grounds.

This briefing shows that the terms of the regulations are perfectly clear and cannot be interpreted other than as a ban on use of 084 telephone numbers by GPs. The briefing also indicates how PCTs have been misled so as to arrive at a misunderstanding.

My database and maps, covering all of the PCTs and Health Boards in England, Wales and Scotland, show a total of 1,372 GP surgeries where the principles of the NHS are shown to be breached. Clear and specific regulations introduced in December 2009 and April 2010 have simply not been enforced.

We wait to hear what action the government will take in defence of the principle that all of us are entitled to access NHS services without being subject to a charge to the benefit of the NHS provider. (A premium on the telephone bill is no different in effect to a till at the surgery reception desk.)

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