9:30am Friday 26th April 2013
By Hannah Bargery
A GROUP of surgeries have u-turned over a decision to install 0844 phone lines which would cost patients extra for booking an appointment over their mobile phone.
The CCA Care Partnership, which includes GP practices in Chapelford, Culcheth and Appleton, had been slammed for the move after posting flyers on their websites advertising the changes would start from Monday.
But bosses have now said they will not be using the expensive phonelines while there is an additional cost to patients.
David Hickson, from the Fair Telecoms Campaign, said practices attempting to use premium numbers was a long-standing problem.
He added: “The cost of a call to an ordinary number is normally zero considering most of us have call bundles.
“It’s up to you to pay the cost of the bus fare to get to the surgery and you expect to pay the cost of a normal telephone call to contact your GP but when they use premium type numbers to subsidise the cost of the system that’s unacceptable.”
A CCA spokesman said the 0844 system was looked into to increase the number of phonelines and allow more patients to call the surgery at peak times.
He added: “During the development phase it became apparent that for some of our patients, the call costs associated with the use of the 0844 number would have been above the cost of a normal local call and we therefore made changes and had set up a 01 number to run alongside the 0844 number for patients who would have incurred additional costs.
“At this moment we have made the decision not to go ahead with implementation until we have resolved all the call cost issues.
“We are still considering our options and would like to assure our patients that any new system will not have a negative impact on them.”
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