MPs have raised concerns that patients are facing “additional charges” to call GP surgeries, despite the practice being banned by the government.
Conservative MP for Rugby Mark Pawsey questioned the government over the use of premium rate telephone numbers in the Commons yesterday. He said: “I have been contacted by a constituent who is a patient at a practice in Rugby that uses telephony based on 084 numbers. My constituent is concerned about the additional charges incurred by patients when contacting the surgery by phone, particularly by mobile phone.”
Labour MP for Edmonton Andrew Love added: “I, similarly, have three GP practices that use those telephone numbers. I have made extensive contact with my local PCT about this, but it did not seem to know what to do. Can the Minister assure us that the clear advice she is giving here today will be distributed around the health service, so that we can put an end to this?”
Health minister Anne Milton said the government had altered the general medical services contract to ban the practice in April this year. Since then, she said; “GPs have not been allowed to use a number that charges patients more than the cost of an equivalent geographical call…
“There are a number of options open to GPs… such as calling patients back, altering the contract arrangements or, indeed, paying the costs themselves.”