PATIENTS WHO HAVE been forced to use costly 0845 telephone numbers to contact NHS Grampian will not have to do so from the start of next month.
In a move that will be welcomed by many receiving regular treatment and advice NHS Grampian’s chief executive, Malcolm Wright, confirmed that new 0345 numbers – which cost the same as a standard local call – are to be brought in from July 1.
Mr Wright confirmed the change to Moray’s MSP, Richard Lochhead, who said that the use of 0845 numbers by public services such as the NHS was a constant complaint in his constituency mailbox.
NHS Grampian had to bow to pressure from the Scottish Government who said that all public sector organisations must use contact numbers that are including in all consumer call packages – and should never cost more than the price of a local call.
0345 numbers cost the standard land line local rate and have been assigned to replace 0845 numbers by OFCOM, the communications regulator in the UK.
Mr Lochhead said: “I am delighted to hear this news which was delivered to me in a letter from NHS Grampian today.
“I had written to the Chief Executive raising the frustrations of constituents who regularly contact me about the charges they incur because of the use of 0845 numbers.
“Up until now, people have faced call charges to contact NHS Grampian because, at present, the numbers used aren’t covered in most call packages. This has been a real bone of contention for many people and I know that this change will be warmly and widely welcomed by patients in Moray.
“This is a positive step forward, which will represent better value for my constituents, and I look forward to seeing the changes implemented at the beginning of July.”