After a concerned patient contacted the Journal, a Grantham doctors’ surgery has rectified an error on their phone system.
Goodliffe Road resident Edward Houghton, 72, informed the Journal that when he tried to book an appointment at St Peter’s Hill Surgery, he noticed that both the supposedly cheaper 0300 number and 084 number had the same recorded message stating the same charge.
This was despite a national measure which saw 0300 numbers brought in to ensure calls cost no more than a national rate call to an 01 or 02 number, both from a landline or a mobile.
Mr Houghton said: “There is a sign up in the surgery saying ring the 0300 number because it’s cheaper, but when I rang up to make an appointment a lady’s voice said it’s 7p a minute. I then tried the 084 number and got the same message. I thought they had done away with all that a few years back.”
Responding to the Journal, practice manager Catherine Dickinson said in a statement: “Thank you for making us aware that our telephone system might be confusing for patients using the 0300 telephone number when calling from mobile phones.
“We were not aware that there was an error on the system until you highlighted the issue to us, for which we are grateful. We have contacted our telephone provider immediately who has rectified the problem.
“To clarify, patients that call the surgery using the 0300 are charged at the local rate. We are unable to specify a generic call rate as individual callers tariffs will vary, so this message is no longer heard when contacting the surgery via the 0300 number.
“In light of patient feedback, we are currently in the process of reviewing our telephone system. Although we are offering the 0300 number as an alternative telephone number, our intention is to remove the 084 telephone number completely in the very near future.
“We have to ensure that the replacement system we adopt is able to handle and process the high volume of calls to the surgery without having a negative impact on our patients and their experience when contacting us.
“We endeavour to ensure a smooth transition between systems when we do switch. We will update our patients as soon as we are able, regarding any changes to the way they can contact the surgery.”