David Hickson's Media Releases

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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]


  1. David
    I can help with info, please contact me.
    I've spoken to two surgeries this morning who are not interested in discussing the 0844 & are more than happy to keep it.
    I asked if they were aware of this issue, they both said yes but were happy to have the number & wont change it or offer an alternative.

  2. And Evergreen surgery in Wanstead have recently changed to an 0844 number. The NHS website (cunningly!) still lists their old geographic number, but when you dial it, you get a message saying the number has changed to the 0844 Number... :-/

  3. I work as patient liasion in a GP surgery. Two years ago patients complained that the phonelines were always engaged so the previous manager signed a 5 year contract for an 0844 number. We have recently began operating a tandem local rate number but we still have 3 years left on the 0844 contract. I have emailed Daisyline and they informed me that 0844 was no longer a premium rate line. Is this correct? Does anyone know if it is possible to get out of a 0844 contract early? or if there is a standard disclaimer we can have on our website/newsletters to tell patients what the charges are?? Thanks porlawright6@nhs.net

  4. Im afraid its a clever use of words by Daisy,patients still pay more than calling a 01/02 number.If you go to the Daisy Groups website which is a commercial site,not surgerylines,it shows that you receive 2p per minute from that line.the problem you have with your tandem number,it doesnt have call queuing and its only a single line,its always going to be engaged which causes a multiple of problems. I can happily explain more about this justin@n3voice.co.uk

  5. My surgery now has an 0844 number but also the geographical no that I think they would rather you didn't use. My standard BT contract has all geographical numbers included, but I pay premium price for the 0844 numbers. When I complained to the receptionist she told me that the previous practice manager had signed a contract with Daisy Line that was supposed to immediately throw up the patients details on a screen thus being more efficient. However she said that this doesn't work. What does happen is that the 0844 line is answered immediately and you are then kept waiting on the line for ages clocking up a small fortune, whereas the geographical number could be engaged which might be irritating but at least it costs nothing. [you can always press 5 to get a ringback call anyway, incurring only a small charge]. The receptionist told me that they did it for all the right reasons but were effectively conned by Daisy Line. If this is so shouldn't it be possible for the new practice manager to get out of the contract?

  6. I am having correspondence with the new practice manager at Skeldocs.org.uk re. the 0844 number that they use. I was trying to quote a comment I had seen somewhere on this site regarding this particular practice but can no longer find it. Please can you tell me what information there is available to this particular practice? Many thanks.

  7. My campaigning activities are now consolidated within the fair telecoms campaign - fairtelecoms.org.uk.

    Do please make contact through that site, being assured of a response.


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