To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, for what reason the Healthy Start helpline is not a freephone service; whether his Department has made an assessment of the impact of charging for calls to the Healthy Start helpline on the number of people seeking assistance with their Healthy Start entitlement; and if his Department will make an assessment of the potential merits of making the Healthy Start helpline a freephone service.
There are currently no plans to make the NHS Business Service Authority’s Healthy Start line a freephone number. The NHS Business Services Authority, in line with national and other Government agencies, transferred from 0845 numbers to 0300 or 01 02 numbers as part of the Fair Telecoms Campaign.
Telephone companies include calls to 0300 numbers in the free minutes of some call plans. Any call charges outside of a plan are charged at a local rate, which is set by the caller’s provider. Calls to the NHS Healthy Start telephone helpline are charged at a local rate. A separate automated telephone is available 24 hours a day, where beneficiaries can activate or replace a lost or damaged card and check their balance. For those with access to digital services, general queries about NHS Healthy Start can be made via email and to the NHS Healthy Start Facebook and Twitter social media channels, which are free services.