0844 Telephone Numbers
Facts In the past, many GP practices upgraded their phone systems with providers who used 0844 numbers. The systems provided new capacity and functions to improve patient care, but at an extra cost to callers. Six years ago the Department of Health asked GP practices to review these arrangements for patients calling from landlines, and Spilsby Surgery duly did so. It would have cost the practice at least £60000 to break our contract – £60k less to spend on patient care. It would also have reduced the capacity of our phone system – more patients would have met an engaged tone at busy times. Our staff might be unable to dial out. We didn’t think this was safe or acceptable. We renegotiated with our provider to add 01790 numbers to our existing contract – a change discussed with our Patient Participation Group. Since then we’ve actively encouraged callers to contact us on these new numbers.
Patients dialing the 01790 number do so at no extra cost. Our 01790 numbers ‘piggy-back’ on the existing 0844 contract, which means the 0844 number has to remain active. The 0844 number will be shown if your phone has a caller display. People who use the 0844 number found on old documents, or web pages that haven’t been updated by third parties, will still get through to us. The practice has taken the ‘reasonable steps’ required of it by Department of Health regulations in renegotiating this contract. If you’re one of the few people still using the old number, please update your records to save yourself further unnecessary expense.