Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 pm on 4th July 2013.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Leader of the House of Commons 10:35 pm, 4th July 2013

My hon. Friend makes an important point. The Government are aiming, as far as is possible, through the digital by default strategy, to give members of the public access to direct online channels of communication, so that they do not have to rely on telephony so much. Some departments, such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, have made considerable progress in moving away from 0845 numbers; I am told that 95% of its personal tax callers now use an 03 or equivalent number. I know from my experience at the Department of Health that part of the principle behind the shift from NHS Direct to the 111 telephone system, which is in principle the right thing to do, is moving away from an 0845 number to a simple, easy to remember and free 111 telephone system.

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Ian G
Posted on 6 Jul 2013 6:23 pm (Report this annotation)

Ofcom created the 03 range of numbers in 2008. It's a mystery why 0345 46 47 has never been activated to replace 0845 46 47 for use by NHS Direct.

In the years since 2008, NHS patients have spent tens of millions of pounds extra on their phone bills calling the 0845 number compared to whatever they would have paid to call an 03 number.