PERFORMANCE: NHS Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland primary care trust cluster have negotiated with Arriva Transport Solutions to provide a new low-rate number for its patient transport service.

The change was made after complaints some patients were being charged over the local rate price for calls to the existing 0845 number.

Arriva Transport Solutions has said it will change to a cheaper, local rate phone number for all customers from the end of September 2012.

The previous 0845 number will still remain in operation for a number of weeks to ensure users have access to the service while details of the new number is being circulated.

Alison Hassell, NHS associate director for acute contracts for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland cluster of PCTs, said: “We have listened to the concerns from local patients and residents about the costs of calls and raised these concerns with Arriva who have taken these on board.

“We can announce the introduction of a new local rate number for patients and hope the number will be up and running by the end of September 2012.

“We must ensure there is a smooth transition and continuity of service is maintained for patients.”

Brian Drury, commercial director of Arriva Transport Solutions, said: “The 0845 number that is used to call our booking centers is not a premium rate number and for many people is charged as a local rate number or is offered free of charge as part of their phone package.

“However, we are aware that people calling from some phones, and particularly mobile phones, may be paying more for their calls. After receiving comments from service users and user groups we are working with commissioners to introduce a new number that will reduce the costs of calls for everyone using the booking line or offer all calls free of charge through a free phone number. We aim to have a new telephone number in place by the end of the month.”