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0870 practice phone lines will not be banned

Practices have the right to instal telephone systems that charge patients extra to call the surgery, say ministers.

Health minister John Hutton said telephone costs had to be covered by overall practice income 'like all other businesses' in response to a parliamentary written question.

The questions were submitted by Chipping Ongar MP Eric Pickles after a patient complained they had to pay 0.3p extra per minute because the practice had changed to an 0870 number.

Mr Hutton added there were no plans to find out how many GPs were installing the 0870 lines or issue guidance.

Dr Hugh Taylor, senior partner at the Essex practice, welcomed the ruling.

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