GP phone numbers switch

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WORK is continuing in doctors surgeries across Sheffield to switch any remaining 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers over to a geographic code.

A Department of Health deadline in April - which said patients should not be charged at more than a local rate whether they were ringing from a landline, mobile phone or public telephone - passed without all practices in the region meeting the requirements.

NHS Sheffield then set a revised deadline of the end of July, although work is still continuing to support surgeries as they make the switch.

A spokeswoman for the PCT said: “While the regulations do not mean practices have to use specific numbers, NHS Sheffield have advised all practices that the best way of ensuring that they meet the requirements of the regulations is to switch to a geographic number starting with 0114 or 03.

Whilst we are continuing to encourage practices to switch at the earliest opportunity, there are a number of factors that may affect their ability to do this immediately, for example the terms of any contracts they may have. Until a practice is in a position to confirm to us that on the whole callers to their practice are not being charged at more than the geographic rate, some practices are implementing a call back policy, for people unable to call their practice from a BT landline.”

NHS Rotherham said they were “reviewing their policy” with regard to the use of non-geographic numbers, while NHS Doncaster said practices using 0844 or 0845 numbers had assurances from their service providers that patients were not being charged more than a local rate.