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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Banning 084 numbers from the NHS in Scotland

Two written answers to questions have been delivered to the Scottish parliament - see below:

The letter to the NHS Board Chief Executives (see copy here) unfortunately refers to "premium rate numbers". It is well known that the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing (Nicola Sturgeon) uses this term to refer to all 084, 087 and 090 numbers. Some may however be confused by the fact that only 087 and 090 numbers are used to deliver what are formally known as "Premium Rate Services".

Whilst it is not incorrect to refer to 084 numbers as "premium rate numbers", the possible confusion with "Premium Rate Services" is highly likely to lead to the (false) assumption that 084 numbers may be acceptable for use by NHS providers.

This same problem has bedevilled attempts to eliminate use of expensive telephone numbers from the NHS in England and Wales. I await a much needed clarification being issued, to avoid Scotland joining a list of failures.

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