Sup­port cam­paign for cheap calls

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Ruther­glen MSP James Kelly is urg­ing res­i­dents through­out Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang to make their views known on a con­sul­ta­tion on GP tele­phone num­bers.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment in Ed­in­burgh is cur­rently re­view­ing their pol­icy on tele­phone charges in­curred by peo­ple try­ing to con­tact their GP.

It has brought for­ward five pro­pos­als for con­sid­er­a­tion, rang­ing from set­ting up a call han­dling sys­tem or ban­ning GP prac­tices hav­ing num­bers be­gin­ning 084, which ac­cord­ing to the con­sul­ta­tion, “can be very ex­pen­sive if called from a mo­bile”.

Labour rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mr Kelly is urg­ing lo­cal peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in the con­sul­ta­tion and add sup­port to the cam­paign for a cheap and ac­ces­si­ble ser­vice for those in need of help from their doc­tor.

James Kelly MSP said: “The last Scot­tish Labour gov­ern­ment banned pre­mium rate tele­phone num­bers and I want to make sure peo­ple are not hit with ex­pen­sive phone bills for sim­ply try­ing to con­tact their GP, which is why I want to make sure lo­cal voices are heard loud and clear.

“It is cru­cial to en­sure con­tact­ing your own GP for help or ad­vice is as cheap and con­ve­nient as pos­si­ble.

“In cer­tain cases peo­ple con­tact­ing their GP’s us­ing mo­bile phones can face sig­nif­i­cant bills depend­ing on their ser­vice provider.

“We’ve seen what can be achieved when a com­mu­nity makes its voice heard, we saw that with the out of hours cam­paign and I urge lo­cal res­i­dents to take part in the con­sul­ta­tion and let the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment know we want the best ser­vice for our com­mu­ni­ties.”

Shona Ro­bi­son MSP, Cabi­net Sec­re­tary for Health, Well­be­ing and Sport, said: “This Gov­ern­ment’s pol­icy has al­ways been to en­sure that pa­tients are not fi­nan­cially dis­ad­van­taged when con­tact­ing their GP prac­tice.

“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.”

The con­sul­ta­tion can be ac­cessed on the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment web­site and will run to 11 June 2015.

Views James Kelly MSP is urg­ing con­stituents to make their views known on a con­sul­ta­tion on GP tele­phone num­bers

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