Plaid Cymru calls for an end to extortionate NHS Direct charges after woman billed £20 for a phone call

Mother billed for seeking advice for ill daughter00_Rhun_ap_Iorwerth_AC.jpg

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Rhun ap Iorwerth has called for the Welsh Government to scrap its 0845 number for NHS Direct in order to stop people being billed excessively.

This comes after one woman was billed £20 for a phone call seeking advice about her ill daughter. Whilst the government is trialling a free 111 phone number in some areas, the Carys Edwards, who does not have a landline, phoned the 0845 number from her mobile phone.

Rhun ap Iorwerth has written to the Health Minister calling on him to scrap the premium rate 0845 number.

Plaid Cymru Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Health Rhun ap Iorwerth said:

“It’s not right that people are being given extortionate bills for seeking medical advice. Plaid Cymru believes in an NHS that’s free for all at the point of delivery, and that includes those seeking medical advice.

“Whilst the Labour Welsh Government encourages people to seek alternatives to GPs to reduce the burden on primary care services, it’s unacceptable that they are being charged so much for using NHS Direct, particularly as the free 111 service is not available everywhere. Charging people £20 for a phone call is disgraceful and it goes against the whole ethos of the NHS.

“I want to see the 0845 number scrapped so that local phone charges only apply until the freephone 111 number is available in every part of the country.”

Carys Edwards, who was billed £20 for using the NHS Direct service said:

“I recently had to phone NHS Direct because my young daughter was ill. I phoned from my mobile phone because like many others, we don’t have a landline. I was very disappointed to see that the phone call cost me nearly £20 when I received my bill later that month. I know that mobile phone calls often cost more than landline calls but this is unacceptably high. Because of the cost, I’m unlikely to use NHS Direct again.”

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