This Government’s policy has always been to ensure that patients are not financially disadvantaged when contacting their GP practice.
The National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations (SSI 2005/337) and the National Health Service (Primary Medical Services Section 17C Agreements) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations (2005/226) amended legislation to ensure that “premium-rate” numbers couldn’t be used by GP practices.
NHS bodies were allowed to continue using 084 numbers as these were classed as local calls by the regulator and would be as cheap when calling from a landline telephone as a geographical number.
In February 2011 Scottish Ministers issued guidance to the profession and in July 2013 restated guidance designed to curtail the use of 084 numbers as calls from mobile operators were being charged at rates akin to that of the aforementioned “premium-rate” numbers.
The principal purpose of this consultation is to ensure that the regulatory framework regarding the use of telephone numbers by GP practices remains fit for purpose.