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Meeting over surgery premium rate line
The manager of a doctor's surgery is to meet with its telecom provider to discuss terminating a costly premium rate contract.
It was releaved last month that patients' calls to Handsworth Medical Practice were subsidising the practice in Handsworth Avenue's telephone costs.
The practice introduced the premium rate line in March 2012 to replace an outdated system, signing a five-year contract with telecoms provider NEG, now known as Surgery Line.
Through the use of the 0844 number, the practice makes nearly £500 a month which is used to offset the monthly £1650 phone bill.
To date, it is estimated the practice has made around £10,000, although this may be set to change.
Practice Manager Josie Camplin has said she asked provider Surgery Line for a settlement figure and a meeting is scheduled for March 10.
The surgery claim it was 'misled' about the 'true costs' to patients and said the premium rate was recommended by health bodies.
Ms Camplin said: "At that time a 0844 number was an approved system recommended by the Local Medical Committee of the BMA and we were led to understand that patients with a land line would pay a local rate charge as would most mobile phone users who had contracts.
"We have introduced a local number in parallel to the 0844 number as an interim measure, whilst looking at options for moving away from the 0844 number.
"If patients are not aware of our local rate number we would draw their attention to our website and posters in the surgery which publicise this information.
"Please be assured we are doing everything in our power to resolve this issue as soon as possible."
Surgery Line has said its customers are not forced to continue to use the 0844 numbers until their long-term contracts end and it is open to them to move to a geographic number on request.
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