Patient charged £8.70 for call to cancel Ipswich Hospital appointment

Julie Knights, a nurse from Suffolk was shocked to find she had been charged for call to Ipswich Hos

Julie Knights, a nurse from Suffolk was shocked to find she had been charged for call to Ipswich Hospital to re-book an appointment at the eye clinic. Pictures: PHIL MORLEY - Credit: Archant

A hospital has said it has replaced a premium rate 0845 telephone number after a woman said she was charged more than £8 for a call as she tried to change an appointment.

Julie Knights had to cancel to appointment at Ipswich Hospital’s eye clinic after falling ill.

Calling the number she had received in a text message reminder about the appointment, she was later shocked to discover she had been charged £8.70 for the 14min call.

However East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust operations lead for outpatients, Simon McCarthy, said patients in future would be asked to use a 0300 number, which is free from landlines and some mobiles.

The hospital has also offered to refund the cost of Mrs Knights’ call.

Mrs Knights, 62, said: “Unfortunately, the day before my appointment I got a particularly nasty cold virus. Thinking that it wasn’t a good idea to take that virus into the hospital, and not feeling at all well anyway, I rang to cancel it and to re-book.

“I used the number that was sent to me in my reminder text I did not at the time realise that it was a premium rate number, and at no time was I warned of this.

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“The call did take a long time, as it had to be transferred to the eye clinic, and then I was held in a queue. I cancelled my appointment and re-booked. Later that day, I found out that I had been charged £8.70 for doing that.

“I feel that people need to be warned about this, as not everybody can afford such extortionate charges, and indeed I can’t.”

Mr McCarthy added: “We have listened to feedback from patients and have replaced the 0845 number with an 0300 number, which is free from landlines and some mobile providers. There is also a free 01473 option.

“Anyone who visits our website or receives the number through our patient messaging service will be reminded to use the 0300 number. We are also updating all our patient letters.

“We aim to make our patient experience a stress-free one and we are sorry for any inconvenience caused to the patient.

“We will be happy to refund the cost of the call through our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS).”

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