A major supplier has promised to cease marketing 0844 numbers to NHS organisations, due to ‘public opinion’ over the use of premium numbers by GP practices.
The Daisy Group, which owns the Daisy Line Surgery telephone service, installed in more than 2,000 practices, has said it will stop marketing 0844 numbers to NHS-related organisations due to public pressure.
The news comes as NHS England has said it will crack down on the use of premium numbers, re-iterating that calls to GP phone lines should cost no more than the price of a local geographical call for patients.
They added they had asked the local area teams to find practices still using premium numbers and will ‘act upon’ their findings in due course.
Mr Andrew Goldwater, commercial director of system services for the Daisy Group said that they will bow to public opinon and stop proactive marketing 0844 numbers to practices.
He said: ‘We have always listened to the needs of our customers, undertaking extensive work to help support them with compliance and developing solutions which help meet the very significant demands placed upon frontline NHS staff and improved access for patients.
‘However, we will not stand in the way of public opinion. We will continue to work in the interests of our GP customers and develop solutions which support them to improve their service to patients, however, we have taken the decision to no longer proactively market the 0844 product to NHS-related organisations.
‘We will continue to work with our GP customers to develop alternative solutions, supporting them by providing them with the products of their choice.’
Mr David Hickson of campaign group Fair Telecoms said the Daisy Group should go further and assist all practices currently using 0844 numbers to switch to the equivalent 0344 number.
He said: ‘As Daisy now recognises that public opinion is in favour of GPs complying with their NHS contracts, it must now recognise the necessity for all practices still using its system to migrate to an acceptable type of number for the remainder of their term. It has no grounds whatsoever for impeding requests to move to the equivalent 0344 number.’