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0870 phone charges are stealth tax

It is interesting to read about 0870 numbers in GP surgeries. I seldom use 0870 numbers and if possible would like to bar it from BT landlines as it costs 8p per minute from 8am to 6pm while other companies charge only 1p per minute for all UK and US calls.

This is a national rate number and can only be accessed through BT, which monopolises that premium number. Some business-to-business companies offer to pay 3p per minute for the recipient of the call.

You may appreciate that some patients are on benefits, and asking them to pay through the phone call to see a doctor is like paying a fee to see a doctor. I do not object if it would be straightforward in asking a fee to see a doctor, as privatisation of the whole health care system is imminent, but this is yet another stealth tax on patients.

Asking patients to use an 0870 code to access the doctor and keeping them on the line for an inappropriate time is unfair.

Dr CJ George

Gravesend, Kent

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