"Patient Opinion's 0845 number"

About: Patient Opinion

(as the patient),

A directive issued by the Department of Health gave NHS bodies until 21 December 2010 to cease use of telephone numbers that are more expensive to call than standard geographic numbers. (http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Legislation/Directionsfromthesecretaryofstate/DH_110480)

Many NHS patients contact NHS bodies using Virginmedia landlines, contract or PAYG mobiles and public payphones. Use of 0845 and 0844 numbers is thereby explicitly prohibited by these Directions. Indirectly charging for access is prohibited by the requirement to have regard to the NHS Constitution, under the terms of the Health Act 2010, anyway.

I see soliciting calls to 0845 113 0012 (Patient Opinion's phone number) as no different. The financial benefit received by the telephone service provider to Patient Opinion may only be used to subsidise the cost of providing a not-for-profit service (like the NHS itself), however because this is reflected in a premium added to the cost of a call (in many cases) it undermines the intention to provide a service that does not levy charges on users.

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Response from

Thanks for this - you raise an important issue.

Patient Opinion is not part of the NHS, but is a social enterprise independent of the NHS. To that extent, we are not covered by the directive you mention.

But the principle you raise is right - people should be able to call a landline number rather than an 0845 number if they choose to do so, for cost or any other reason.

We will make sure we publish the landline number to call on this site and on our print materials as soon as possible.

Thanks again for raising this issue.

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