Local NHS trust reviews ‘unacceptable’ premium phone number use after pressure from MP

Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin has hailed Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust’s decision to review the “unacceptable” use of costly 0844 numbers on its website as “welcome but long overdue”.

The move comes after pressure from Ms Brabin and a constituent, Ray Crorken, who has been campaigning to have the revenue generating numbers dropped since a costly phone call he made to a hospital service.

Mid Yorks, which runs Dewsbury and District, Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals, is one of the few remaining NHS trusts in the country to list the numbers, which can cost up to 62p per minute from a mobile phone.

Tracy Brabin MP wrote to the then Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt requesting that the practise be stopped after the issue was brought to her attention by Mr Crorken earlier this year.

But the Government refused to intervene saying it’s a matter for the trust, and Ms Brabin has since raised the issue with MYHT hospital bosses.

Ms Brabin said: “This is a very welcome but long overdue decision on behalf on the Trust.

“The prominent listing of revenue generating 0844 numbers on the Trust’s website could very easily lead to a nasty surprise in a monthly phone bill, as Mr Crorken discovered to his cost.

“The practise led to a situation where poorly and vulnerable people were often charged over the odds for a service they had no choice but to use, and it’s simply unacceptable.

“I would now like to see MYHT follow in the footsteps of many other NHS Trusts throughout the country and cease the use of 0844 numbers altogether.”

Up until last week on the Trust’s contact page online, the 0844 number was listed before the significantly cheaper 01924 alternative – a number which is often free on most mobile phone packages.

The trust has now updated their website, listing the 01924 numbers first followed by the more expensive 0844 option.

Ray Crorken, from Batley, said: “There is a greater proportion of vulnerable people amongst those who are ill and who must use the services of Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust.

“The use of an 0844 number as a point of contact by MYHT imposes an unnecessary and unwarranted financial burden on the most vulnerable.

“I welcome the news that MYHT has finally decided to remove the 0844 number from its website. I hope that MYHT will now take the necessary steps to remove its use of the 0844 number from all points of contact be that on stationary or websites.”

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