BMA: GPs must be allowed to use 084 numbers
By Steve Nowottny
The BMA has defended GP surgeries' use of 084 numbers and warned practices must be allowed to see out existing contracts if the numbers are banned.
The association has yet to formally make a submission to the Government's consultation on the issue, but outlined its response in this month's GPC newsletter.
The BMA argues: ‘We believe that people should be charged as low a cost as possible to call NHS services, but this has to be balanced by the quality of service the patients are accessing.'
‘Many practices value the extra functions that a number such as 084 and 03 numbers can provide, as they want to improve access to patients by providing telephone numbers with extra functionality.'
The BMA also called for a ‘voluntary' switch for practices to revert to local numbers.
‘Our main concern is that when the new telephone systems were put in with the new 084 numbers, many surgeries had to sign up to a long contract and even if they want to change, they cannot at the moment due to contractual obligation.'
‘If the Government decides to use to ban the use of 084 numbers, the Department of Health should ensure that practices are allowed to serve out the terms of their contract if 084 numbers are banned.'
The Department of Health consultation closes on 31 March.