Legislation introduced last month asserted that calls to practices, hospitals and PCTs in England must cost less than premium rates.
However, GPC guidance suggests this ruling ‘does not mean that the use of 084 numbers in itself has been banned'.
The guidance said: 'As long as the tariff is equivalent to local rates, and the practice obtains a written guarantee from their phone supplier that they are charging rates in line with local geographic calls, then they will be deemed to have fulfilled their medical services contract.'
It added: 'The DoH has been assured by the main phone service supplier, Network Europe Group (NEG) that this is the case.'
The guidance also outlined that if any legal action should be taken to challenge this then it would be against the PCT, and not the practice.
However, NHS campaigner David Hickson said what callers pay is not determined by NEG, but by their own telephone service provider, and as such ‘any guarantee from NEG is totally worthless'.