David Hickson's Media Releases

My recent bloggings

Monday, 15 October 2012

Breaches of the NHS GP contract continue - new 0844 telephone numbers being adopted

This media release draws attention to two recent examples of a continuing national problem,
one in the South East (Herne Bay), the other in the North West (Chester).


The release has been circulated addressed and copied to various parties, from whom I have invited comments:

Addressed to:

This message is openly addressed to those who carry some responsibility for this abuse of the principles of the NHS.

The practices have a contractual duty to determine that “persons will not pay more to make relevant calls to the practice than they would to make equivalent calls to a geographical number”, before choosing a telephone number. By suggesting that alternative geographical numbers are necessary, they clearly indicate a belief that some will pay more to call the number they have chosen.
[Park Surgery (Herne Bay); Northgate Village Surgery;]
The PCTs and the NHS Commissioning Board (which is taking over the relevant responsibility) have a duty to represent the interests of patients, by ensuring compliance with the terms of the GP contract.
[Ann Sutton - Chief Executive - Kent and Medway PCT Cluster; Felicity Cox - Local Area Team Director: Kent & Medway - NHS Commissioning Board; Kathy Doran - Chief Executive - NHS Cheshire Warrington and Wirral; Moira Dumma - Local Area Team Director: Cheshire Warrington & Wirral - NHS Commissioning Board; Ann Sutton - Director of NHS Commissioning - NHS Commissioning Board;]
The Department of Health has a duty to ensure that the respective responsibilities are clearly understood and that the information necessary to discharge them is accessible.
[Nick Hall - Deputy Director - Department of Health; David Howarth - Department of Health;]
The telephone system provider (Daisy Group) may be used, or may volunteer itself, as a source of information about the tariffs used by customers of telephone companies, including and other than that (Talk Talk) for which it acts as a reseller of the numbers in question. If claiming any competence in this role, it has a duty not to provide inaccurate information.
[Matthew Riley - CEO - Daisy Group]

Copied to:

This message is openly copied to those who have a clear interest in the issue, for the reputation of themselves and that of the “reformed” NHS.

Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Medical Committees represent their local GP communities. They will both be concerned to show that those they represent are clearly committed to the principles of the NHS. In the former case, they are stepping forward to accept a duty to apply them in making major commercial decisions.
[Canterbury and Coastal CCG; West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group; Kent LMC; Cheshire LMC;]
The GP Committee of the BMA has a national duty to represent its members. After initially declaring its opposition to the intention of the contractual revisions (suggesting that patients should pay according to the quality of service received), it now accepts that it has failed to secure this "reform" and support the continuing principles of the NHS.
[Dr Laurence Buckman - Chairman - BMA GPC;]
Local MPs have a duty to represent the interests of their constituents. As members of our parliament they share a duty to protect “our NHS”.
[Roger Gale MP; Stephen Mosley MP;]
Health Ministers have a duty to ensure that their Department, and those to whom relevant responsibilities are devolved execute the will of parliament, as reflected in the terms of NHS GP contract.
[Jeremy Hunt MP - Secretary of State for Health; Anna Soubry MP - Parliamentary Under Secretary of State - Department of Health; Dr Dan Poulter MP - Health Services Minister;]
Shadow Health Ministers have a duty to ensure that those they shadow are held to account for the discharge of their responsibilities.
[Andy Burnham MP; Liz Kendall MP; Andrew Gwynne MP; Jamie Reed MP]

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Oh dear Pudsey! - are you going back to 084 telephone numbers?

Countryfile has launched its 2013 Calendar, which is

“Sold on behalf of the BBC   for   Children in Need    by   Hallmark Consumer Services
    … phone our order line on
      0844 811 7044”.

Pudsey gave up 084 numbers in 2008

After extensive campaigning in 2008, BBC Children in Need replaced its 084 telephone numbers with the 034 equivalents. This ensured that callers paid only the cost (if anything) of a call to a geographic number to donate or request a fundraising pack.

It appears that something has gone badly wrong. Callers to 0844 811 7044 pay a premium Service Charge of around 5p per minute to the operator of the order line, plus a premium Access Charge of up to 35p per minute to their telephone company.

See the announcement clip below. This is also available on the Countryfile website.

New regulations

As part of its new regulations to “simplify non-geographic numbers”, Ofcom will shortly be announcing a requirement to always state the Service Charge included in the cost of calling any 084 number. There is no current requirement to hide this charge, although many do!

If the BBC chose to follow Ofcom's suggested format (see this example), before it was compelled to do so, it would look something like this:

Is Pudsey happy with agents imposing service charges?

If Hallmark Consumer Services is content to levy a Service Charge on callers to its order lines, in the knowledge that telephone companies will add their own premiums, then that is matter for it to decide. We understood that Pudsey wanted to stay away from this practice.

The fair telecoms campaign argues that Service Charges (applied whenever a 084 number is chosen) should only be imposed in very particular circumstances - not by Pudsey!

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


    View Blog by Label

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

    Search This Blog