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Departmental Telephone Services

Volume 486: debated on Monday 19 January 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what use (a) his Department and (b) service providers under contract to his Department make of (i) 0844 and 0845 telephone numbers and (ii) revenue-sharing telephone numbers for calls from members of the public; for which services such numbers are used; what prefixes are used for revenue-sharing numbers; how much revenue has accrued from revenue-sharing numbers in each of the last five years; what consideration his Department has given to introducing 03-prefixed telephone numbers for calls to all such services; and if he will make a statement. (247343)

The Department runs or supports the following 0845 telephone numbers.

Telephone numbers

EHIC Order Line

0845 605 0707

EHIC enquiry line

0845 606 2030

Healthy Start

0845 607 6823

Healthy Start Minicom

0845 601 7698

Social Work and Care Careers Recruitment Line

0845 604 6404

Social Work and Care Careers Recruitment Minicom

0845 601 6121

The 0845 numbers serving recruitment for social care and social workers will be moved over to the new 0300 tariff by the end of February. The use of 0845 numbers for the other services is currently under review.

The Department ran the following non-revenue generating lines, using 0870 numbers. While they were mainly for the use of national health service and social services professional there was some use by the public. Since May 2008, these services have been available via 0300 numbers but the 0870 numbers needs to be maintained until the end of March 2009 to allow for the transition.

Telephone numbers

Department of Health Publication Order line

08701 555 455

Department of Health Publication Order line minicom

08700 102 870

The Department’s Executive agencies, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency have no 0845 or similar cost telephone numbers for use by the public.

The Department does not centrally hold information on the telephone numbers used by the NHS.

The Department has 24 arm’s length bodies and a number of national programmes e.g. NHS Employers. Information about telephone services for these bodies is not held centrally and cannot be provided except at disproportionate cost.

The Department also grants funds to a wide range of voluntary and charitable organisations to provide services relating to health and healthy living. Some of these organisations include telephone helplines as part of their services. It is not possible, without incurring disproportionate cost, to identify individual projects with telephones services and whether 0845 telephone numbers are used.

In February 2005, my right hon. Friend the Member for Barrow and Furness (Mr. Hutton), then Minister of State for Health announced a ban on the NHS using premium rate telephone numbers such as 0870.

We recently launched a public consultation on the intention to prohibit the use of 084 numbers in the NHS. This will run from 16 December 2008 until 31 March 2009.