Changes to 084 number tariffs, which will ensure that
patients who call them do not pay more than the equivalent cost of a local
number, are the fairest way forward for patients and practices, the BMA said today (Monday 14 September 2009). Commenting on the announcement by the
Department of Health Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA's GPs
"Patients who call their surgery because they're ill
shouldn't be penalised because they have to call an 084 number, so we're
pleased that the phone companies who supply these lines to practices have
agreed to ensure that their tariffs are in line with local charges.
"There are many added benefits that telephone systems using
these numbers have and which patients find helpful, for example better and
quicker access, so it's good to see that the government has recognised this and
has not gone for a complete ban on the use of these numbers. Combining the
benefits of 084 numbers with an assurance that they won't cost more than a
local phone call is the best solution for patients and practices.
"We'd also like to see more phone companies include
084 numbers in the comprehensive call packages they offer customers to increase
the benefit for patients. Calling these numbers should be treated no
differently from calling other geographic numbers."