General Practitioners

Health written question – answered on 5th May 2011.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Labour, Walsall South

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he is taking steps to ensure that GP practices do not require their patients to use telephone numbers that are more expensive to call than geographic numbers, as stipulated in the Standard General Medical Services contract, section 29b.

Photo of Simon Burns Simon Burns The Minister of State, Department of Health

The Department issued guidance and directions to the national health service on 21 December 2009 which stated that NHS bodies and general practitioner practices should not enter into new, renew, or extend, contracts for telephone services unless they can be satisfied that patients will not pay more than they would to make equivalent calls to a geographical number.

It is the responsibility of primary care trusts to ensure that local practices are compliant with the directions and guidance.

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David Hickson
Posted on 12 May 2011 12:49 am (Report this annotation)

The answer is a clear "No" - this is the responsibility of Primary Care Trusts - proposed for abolition. Steps are already being taken to ensure the abolition is put into effect, before the legisation passes into law.

Mr Burns confirmed why PCTs are proposed for abolition in his contribution to the Opposition Day Debate on 9 May - "they are unnecessary". (See Col 960 -

If enforcement of the principles of the NHS is "unnecessary" then we understand where Mr Burns truly stands on the principle of "free at the point of use" (see He and his colleagues remain "committed" to repeating the words, but they think it "unnecessary" for action to be taken to ensure that this principle is applied in practice.