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
One of the problems the “Yes to a Mayor” campaign in Coventry has had to contend with is that our well respected paper, the Coventry Telegraph has taken a negative attitude towards the proposition. Indeed, I have not engaged with the Paper since last May on the subject of Mayors and I have read nothing over the intervening period that has persuaded me that it would be worthwhile to do so.
However, last week’s dose of negativity and invective against those who favour a Mayor did not appear in the Paper and appeared only briefly in the on line version before being pulled. A certain gent has been briefing that the reason it was pulled was a threat of libel from a pro-Mayor Media personality, however, that appears to be false. Even those who were originally disposed to give this bit of spin credence have now concluded that they were “sold a pup”.
So is it possible that the story didn’t appear for positive reasons rather than negative ones? Could it be that far from fear of litigation the reason the story never appeared is because it was felt it had no news value and was simply an unworthy bit of sneering at those who advocate a Mayor? If so, it is just possible that someone has reviewed the sneers, smears and negativity that has run through the coverage and thought ENOUGH! If so, there might be hope in something we have not read.
I don’t want the Coventry Telegraph to advocate an Elected Mayor. If the paper tried to bounce the City into changing the council’s governance that would be every bit as wrong as the paper’s coverage over the last eight months has been. But is there a glimmer of hope that even now, at the eleventh hour, they will use the real talent that they have to present the case, the pros and the cons and ensure that by the time the people of Coventry come to vote, they can hold their heads up and say they did a good job presenting the issues and helped the people to understand the arguments and encouraged them to vote.
Bob writes an article in the Coventry Observer on the benefits that Coventry can derive from HS2