HIGHAMS PARK: Outrage over surgery call cost hike

THE boss of a GP surgery which has opted to introduce a more expensive 0844 number has said hard-up patients should "negotiate a better deal" for using their mobile phones.

Handsworth Medical Practice in Highams Park has been heavily criticised for penalising people who are ill at a time when household budgets are being squeezed.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley recently said GPs should not be using 0844 numbers which generate revenue for the call receiver but three surgeries in Chingford and Highams Park use the dialling code.

Parkhouse Surgery in Cavendish Road, Chingford, shares the same number as Handsworth Medical Practice.

Ridgeway Surgery in Mount Echo Avenue, Chingford, also uses the code.

The surgeries will earn a percentage of the charge for using a mobile, which can be as much as 40p per minute.

This compares to a cost of up to 30p per minute for mobile users to call a local landline.

But Handsworth practice manager Josie Camplin defended the move.

She said: "The number was changed because we had to have a new telephone system and that’s the number we were issued.

"It’s cheaper than most rates on BT landlines. [Patients] need to negotiate a new mobile phone package."

However, Sandeep Chritsten, chairman of the Highams Park Society, said he struggled to understand the logic of the decision.

He said: "Patients on a low income with no landline must use their mobiles and it's so expensive to call from those.

"Also the option to speak to a receptionist is the last one and so people are forced to spend more time on the call."

The Guardian made three calls to the surgery on Thursday and twice waited for more than five minutes to speak to a member of staff.

Oliver Shykles, chairman of the Highams Park Forum, said people with health problems and the elderly would suffer most.

He added: "It seems people are being penalised for being more ill than others.

"When the call is answered by a machine it means you wait even longer."

Ward councillors Darshan Sunger and Sheree Rackham both criticised the move.

Ridgeway Surgery's practice manager, Yvonne Davey, refused to discuss the issue with the Guardian.

Comments (5)

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10:58am Sun 13 May 12

legseleven says...

It smacks of private practice by the back door. We'll be asked to pay soon to go on a doctors list (panel) soon!
Me, I reckon it'll be cheaper to visit the barbers for my needs. LOL
It smacks of private practice by the back door. We'll be asked to pay soon to go on a doctors list (panel) soon! Me, I reckon it'll be cheaper to visit the barbers for my needs. LOL legseleven
  • Score: 1

11:43am Sun 13 May 12

anothere17reader says...

How bizarre. Most surgeries and dentists are in the process of REMOVING these charges, not adding them.

An utter scam and they know it. The practice manager's claim that "that's the number we were issued" is beyond belief, unless they were scammed by the number provider.
How bizarre. Most surgeries and dentists are in the process of REMOVING these charges, not adding them. An utter scam and they know it. The practice manager's claim that "that's the number we were issued" is beyond belief, unless they were scammed by the number provider. anothere17reader
  • Score: 0

9:57pm Sun 13 May 12

amg123 says...

Last month I had to make 4 calls to the surgery which cost me £2.90 using a landline. I was kept holding for 17 minutes.Profiteering clear and simple.
Last month I had to make 4 calls to the surgery which cost me £2.90 using a landline. I was kept holding for 17 minutes.Profiteering clear and simple. amg123
  • Score: 0

10:11am Mon 14 May 12

jen68 says...

Outrageous! If anything - calls to the doctors should be FREE!
Outrageous! If anything - calls to the doctors should be FREE! jen68
  • Score: 0

2:26pm Tue 15 May 12

1to1 says...

I urge patients of the practice to write and voice their opinions on this matter. I think its a disgrace that cannot be justified and the statement from the practice manager Josie Camplin has served to exacerbate the situation. Her comments are nonsensical and the presumption is that patients of the practice don't have a brain cell between them if she thinks we believe this garbage. If anyone needs to negotiate a new phone package - its the practice. The hippocratic oath states "I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice."

But the new phone system is clearly set to harm the masses and is most unjust.
I urge patients of the practice to write and voice their opinions on this matter. I think its a disgrace that cannot be justified and the statement from the practice manager Josie Camplin has served to exacerbate the situation. Her comments are nonsensical and the presumption is that patients of the practice don't have a brain cell between them if she thinks we believe this garbage. If anyone needs to negotiate a new phone package - its the practice. The hippocratic oath states "I will apply dietic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice." But the new phone system is clearly set to harm the masses and is most unjust. 1to1
  • Score: 0

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