Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Rising cost of contacting your Doctor

If one thing that has changed under Labour, its the attitude of many health care workers, towards patients. Its not long ago, that a call to a doctors, or any part of our national health service might be answered with arrogance and even hostility, fortunately those days seem to have passed and patients are treated more like paying customers, which most of us are.

Doctors surgeries now seem to accept that patients, ring surgeries, not because they want a chin wag, or that they wish to discuss their medical history with a receptionist, but that they have an issue sufficiently troubling to face the professional scrutiny of their GP. These days generally the only bar to getting an appointment is contacting your surgery early in the day, and here's the downside, for some reason Doctors Surgeries are acquiring new phone numbers that have 0844 as a prefix.

For many of us ringing 0844 costs more than normal, if for instance you pay inclusive local calls, then you will pay 5p per minute (inc VAT) with BT, and for many of us who use our mobile the cost is significantly higher in my case 15p per minute, for most of us a trivial cost, however many on lower incomes this is less trivial particularly on prepay phones. In defence doctors would no doubt suggest that the money they earn with these new numbers, help offset the cost of telephone systems, all well and good, but why not charge for seating in waiting rooms, or install a meter in the doctors room, with say a 5 minute consultation @ £5.00 and £1.00 a minute thereafter maybe a tariff for extras like a couple of quid for each additional medical problem or trivial complaint like a cold or asking for a repeat prescription.

A quick trawl through the NHS website, would suggest that a majority of Thanet surgeries have resisted the temptation to charge patients to contact them, which is what most expect the health service to be, free (after we've been Taxed to pay for it).

I don't doubt that doctors practices are run on business lines, but most businesses consider answering the phone as part of their operating costs like, heat, light, staff, etc.

Still I notice that Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Health Care Trust are having a "roadshow" event about local services in Broadstairs at the Pavilion between 9am & noon April 30th at which you can ask questions, my question would be is there any danger of having a public meeting at a time which suits not just the elderly, welfare dependent and those unemployed, but those earning a living and paying taxes to fund the health service.

1 comment:

  1. Tony you are right, but its not just the NHS its the BBC as well. I have a landline contract which covers all the cost of my uk calls,,however if you call the local radio station, it costs extra .