David Hickson's NHS Patient Blog

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Sunday, 16 August 2009

David Hickson's NHS Patient Blog

Having been involved in public compaigning activites on matters of general public concern for some years, I have decided that now is the time to get into blogging. I contribute to discussion forums, have a campaign resource website and have been playing with Twitter. I put a lot of energy (and some powerful writing) into many emails that are not retained by the recipients.

The current campaiging focus sits within a much broader context, but relates to the shortly expected outcome from a public consultation undertaken by the Department of Heath from December 2008 to March 2009.

The consultation was on a proposal to ban use of revenue sharing 084 telephone numbers within the NHS. A "revenue sharing" telephone number is one which causes money to pass from the caller to the called party proportionate to the length of the call.

The manner in which this money is collected by the caller's telephone company and distributed at the other end varies. The confusion this creates is exploited by those who suggest that callers pay no extra and receivers receive no income. The transfer of funds may be difficult to see and may be obscured by other factors, however the prinicple stands and this is invariably what is happening (in one way or another) in every case.

Given this, one may wonder at the need for a consultation or any deliberation. The NHS is free at the point of need, is it not. That is true, however many NHS providers have been allowed to come to rely on the funding provided by revenue sharing and this cannot be switched off at a stroke without considering the impact. Furhermore, because the revcnue sharing process is tied to the numbers being used, many numbers will have to be changed.

In further postings I will doubtless be addressing many of the specific issues in detail and also widening the scope of the discussion. I will be covering other issues relating to the NHS being "free at the point of need", other public sector organisations using revenue sharing telephone numbers and many issues more than one step removed from the primary focus.

The name "NHS.Patient" is used simply to indicate my status as nothing more than one part owner of "our NHS". It is to be seen as being used with the indefinite, not definite article.

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