Caskgate GP surgery in Gainsborough is among hundreds in the UK still using a premium rate 0844 - costing many patients between 20p - 40p per minute to book an appointment.
Using an 0844 number can help a GP practice to offer additional services that improve patients’ access to care, but dialling these numbers to book appointments has been reported to have cost patients bwtween 20p - 40p per minute.
Several years ago, the NHS stated that where call costs are exceeding those for geographic numbers ‘all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure this does not continue’. However, Caskgate Surgery still lists 0844 576 9377 as the contact number on their website.
Angela Roddham said: “I think it’s disgusting that a doctors has a premium rate number. It costs a fortune to ring from a mobile.”
Gainsborough resident Irene Bushfield Higgins said: “I refuse to phone it.”
Lorna Abbott added: “I cap my phone bill so I can’t overspend which means I cannot ring premium rate. Then again when you do manage to get through you struggle to get an apopintment.”
Practice Manager at Caskgate Street Surgery Gainsborough Pam Steadman responded by saying: “The current telephone contract was originally installed to help patients’ calls be dealt with quicker, following a survey with patients four years ago.”
“Unfortunately some of our patients may experience higher charges to the 0844 number as certain telephone providers charge differently, depending on what package the customer has purchased.
She continued: “Some call packages mean that customers pay up front for calls they make, but 0844 numbers are not included in their terms and conditions and some calls differ from mobiles.”