Dear Editor, In today’s Birmingham Post (January 26), you report the campaign of MP Bob Ainsworth urging ministers to intervene to stop GPs using expensive 084 or 085 numbers for patient calls, so that patients do not pay more than the cost of a local call to contact their GP and /or NHS services.
He should start nearer home.
Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the UK Border Agency, the Department of Work and Pensions and many other government departments are only available on 0845 numbers, which are high cost, particularly on a mobile.
And anyone wanting to discuss their particular case may have to wait half an hour or more before a “real person” answers the telephone.
Mangled music and assurances that much of the information is available on the relevant website punctuate this long, tedious and expensive wait: 30 minutes at 40p per minute is £12. He is right in saying that “the people affected are disproportionately the more deprived members of our community” as they usually depend on mobile phones, but we all suffer from this. Government departments should be free to call (0800), or charged at local rates in fairness to us all.