Written by Karen Bryan
I’m waiting to see an orthopaedic surgeon for a consultation. Unfortunately there’s no clinic for this at our local hospital in Berwick upon Tweed. I’ll need to make a 60 mile round trip to the outpatient department in Alnwick. I was quite pleased to receive a letter with an appointment in early September, within a couple of weeks of referral. Then I noticed that the appointment was for Wansbeck Hospital instead of Alnwick.
I was annoyed that the contact telephone number given was an 0844 number, which incurs additional charges on most inclusive landline and mobile phone packages. I was unable to find out the exact cost of this call from a BT landline, as it appears that calling 0844 numbers varies in cost according to the two digits after the 0844. However, the cost varies between 1 and 13 pence a minute. The holders of some 0844 number receive 1 pence a minute in revenue sharing. On my Vodafone montly contract, it would cost 35 pence a minute to call an 0844 mnumber.
All I can say is thank goodness for the money saving Say No To 0870 site, where I was able to get the standard number for Northumbria HealthCare, which I could call with no additional charge from either my BT Anytime Call Package or my Vodaone mobile phone inclusive minutes.
I think that public bodies should be banned from using to non geographic numbers. My call to change my appointment lasted just under 5 minutes, so if I’d only had a mobile phone and used the Northumbria NHS 0844 contact number, it would have cost me around £1.70.