Bob Ainsworth will lead an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall on Tuesday 24th January 2012 at 12:30pm on the use of 084 telephone numbers by GP practices in the NHS.
The fundamental point of the debate is that patients should never be charged more than the equivalent cost of calling a geographical number to contact their GP
To achieve this end, on 1 April 2010, the Department of Health amended the General Medical Services (GMS) contracts and the Personal Medical Services (PMS) agreements for GPs practices to ensure that “persons will not pay more to make a call to the practice than they would to make equivalent calls to a geographical number”. GP practices were given until 1 April 2011 to comply with the terms of the amended contracts.
Unfortunately, nine months after the 1 April 2011 deadline has passed, nearly 1,300 (or around 13%) of GP practices in England continue to use costly 084 telephone numbers that invariably charge more than the cost of an equivalent geographic call.
It’s clear that a significant problem still exists in relation to the use of 084 numbers by GP practices and additional action is needed. This should include:
- Additional guidance from the Department of Health to clarify the requirements contained in the amended GP contracts and guidance to ensure that those responsible for enforcing said requirements are fully aware of their obligations
- GP practices complying with the terms of the amended GP contracts and migrating to a 03 or a geographic telephone number that charge patients no more than the cost of a call to an equivalent geographic number
- And PCTs effectively ensuring compliance with, and enforcement of, the amended GP contracts for the benefit of all patients