Hold on a minute

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YOU RECENTLY published an article querying the use of 0844 dialling codes being used by local NHS doctors’ surgeries.

A high-ranking official defended the issue by stating that it was much more convenient for the patients, in that they would no longer hear an engaged tone and have to redial, and that their call would be held in an orderly queue until dealt with.

He neglected to state that being held in this queue would cost the patient 8p per minute for the privilege!

I recently had the need for an urgent appointment with a doctor at our local surgery, and this involved making two calls, as on the first call I was advised that there were no further emergency appointments available on that day, and to call again on the following day, as soon after eight o’clock as possible, in order to secure a place on the list.

A maximum of four minutes was spent actually talking to the receptionists during these calls, and as I pay 3p a minute for local calls, the cost would have been 12p.

My telephone bill shows that I have been charged £1.36 for 17 minutes, and £1.04 of this was for on-hold time! Bear a thought also for the other 35 patients who were also on-hold initially during my second call.

Can we go back to the old fashioned system please? I’m quite happy to press the redial button a few times if it will save me a pound or two.

DEREK GOODALL

Farhalls Crescent, Horsham