A FAIR Telecoms campaign has claimed another victory after four more surgeries in the town have performed u-turns over costly appointment phone lines.
The Warrington Guardian reported last year a group of three surgeries had opted not to install the 0844 number after they were slammed for using a number which would cost patients extra for booking an appointment over their mobile phone.
Campaigners have since drawn up a list of 350 practices across the country still using the ‘rip-off’ phoneline after claiming there was no ‘valid situation whereby a patient should be invited to call an expensive number to access NHS service’.
A spokesman added: “Our NHS is funded from our taxation and services are delivered ‘free at the point of need’.”
The list included Dr Wadsworth and Partners, who has branches on Manchester Road and Holes Lane in Woolston, and Dr Jain, who has branches in Stretton and Grappenhall.
But after asking NHS England to comment, the Warrington Guardian was informed all four practices had already been urged to switch to local numbers rather than a premium phone line.
A spokesman added: “Since November 2013, NHS England has been in very regular liaison with all of the GP Practices within Cheshire Warrington and Wirral (CWW) Area Team who operate an 0844 telephone number to request their plans for returning to a local rate telephone number.
“A number of these have already wholly reverted back to local geographical number and others are reviewing their contracts.”
As a result, the two surgeries run by Dr Wadsworth and Partners installed a local 01925 number in the spring of this year with a response over plans to deactivate the 0844 number expected by the end of the month.
Dr Jain’s two practices have also deactivated the 0844 number and there is a message for any patients who call the number directing them to a local rate number.
David Hickson, from the ‘Fair Telecoms Campaign’ said: “We are delighted to hear the NHS England team for Cheshire, Warrington and Wirral appear to have responded to the letter sent to them, and forwarded to the practices, last November.
“Given that a switch of telephone number can be arranged in a matter of days or a few weeks, it is very disappointing to find that at least 10 surgeries under their control are still operating with ‘illegal’ telephone numbers.”