Doctor's surgery reverts back to local rate number (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
Send photos, video and news by texting GUARDIAN SERIES to 80360 (cost 10p), or upload here
It was revealed earlier this year that patients were subsidising Handsworth Medical Centre costs through the use of a premium rate line
A doctor's surgery has announced it has reverted back to a local rate teephone number after patients spent two years being charged to call a premium rate line.
Earlier this year, the Waltham Forest Guardian revealed patients using the 0844 number, introduced in March 2012, were subsidising phone bill costs at the Handsworth Medical Centre in Handsworth Avenue, Highams Park.
The practice was said to be making almost £500 a month.
At the time of taking out the five-year contract with telecom provider NEG, now known as Surgery Line, practice manager Josie Camplin said the surgery had been "misled" about the "true cost" to patients.
As an interim measure, a local rate number was introduced in parallel to the 0844 number as Ms Camplin looked at ways of moving away from the 0844 number, which cost patients a minimum of 4p a minute.
The number generated £10,000 and the contract was due to expire in March 2017.
However, on June 16 the surgery reverted back to a local rate telephone number.
In May 2013, NHS England announced it was to crack down on GPs' use of premium rate phone numbers and threatened them with breach of contract notices if they could not prove they were doing all they could to stop using the premium rate numbers.
David Hickson of the Fair Telecoms Campaign is "delighted" by the announcement but claims more needs to be done.
He said: "The fair telecoms campaign is delighted to see that one more surgery has finally moved back to compliance with the contractual terms introduced in April 2010.
"There are however over 400 other cases across England, including a further 14 in North East London.
"We need to see NHS England doing far more to enforce the terms of the contracts which tie independent GP practices to our NHS."
The practice has been contacted for a comment.
Comments are closed on this article.