"Premium rate numbers"

About: Hexham General Hospital

(as the patient),

Wanting to phone Hexham Hospital but can only find 0844 number which is not included in my free telephone numbers with my provider. The hospitals claim they use these numbers so that they are a local rate for anyone but why not include a geographical number as well? A lot of people do not have 0844 included in the free numbers of a provider but can call any geographical number free of charge. Also 0844 is expensive for a mobile user - please provide both options

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Response from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Dear Luisa

Thank you for taking the time to post your comment. Our website provides the individual, local, numbers of wards and departments for our hospitals. Our web address is www.northumbria.nhs.uk - just go to the patients and visitors tab at the top and then choose your hospital and look under ward information. We hope this helps.

Kind regards

Response from Hexham General Hospital

Dear Sir/Madam Due to a technical error with NHS Choices we have been unable to respond to your comment until today and whilst this was out of our control, we are sorry it has taken a while for you to see a response. Due to the same error we are unable to see if you have left your name - we always like to reply personally if we are able to. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. This issue has been raised in the past and is clearly something which concerns people. This gives us another opportunity to explain our thinking behind the creation of a centralised telephone number. In August 2007, we created a central switchboard to allow us to have all of our hospitals, including community hospitals, on one switchboard which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As we are geographically one of the largest trusts in the country, our hospitals are not within one dialling code area. Our patients, their families and friends regularly call hospitals which are not within their dialling code so would be charged national rates for these. We charge a lower rate of 4p a minute for our 0844 number. This number ensures everyone calling the Trust is charged the same rate which on many occasions is cheaper. Unfortunately mobile phone providers can and do charge a higher amount. We try to give our patients the option of using a local number where possible by having direct dial local numbers for most wards and departments. This means if someone is calling to enquire about a relative on a ward or to check an outpatient appointment and they live locally they could use the local rate number. The direct dial numbers are available on our website www.northumbria.nhs.uk. If you would like to discuss this further please contact Chris Houghton, Telecommunications Manager, on 0191 203 1667. Thank you again for raising this issue with us.

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