GPC says practices must be exempt from 084 ban

Practices must be allowed to serve out the terms of their contracts if 084 numbers are banned, according to the General Practitioners Committee.

It backs a voluntary switch for practices from 084 to local numbers in England at the conclusion of the DoH consultation into the issue.

The GPC welcomes BT’s decision to allow 0845 numbers to be free within their call packages. It says this suggests that the government could encourage all telephone companies to review their call charges to NHS services and include 084 numbers in comprehensive call packages so that patients do not incur additional costs.

A GPC concern is that when the new telephone systems were put in with the 084 numbers, many surgeries had to sign up to a long contract and, even if they want to change, they cannot at the moment.

The consultation closes on 31 March 2009.

neil.durham@haymarket.com

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