A HOSPITAL trust is dropping its use of 0844 telephone numbers.

Mid Essex Hospitals NHS Trust reverted to local codes (01245) from Saturday.

The change is being made to coincide with the move of services and wards into the new PFI hospital wing at Broomfield.

All 0844 calls will be re-routed to a recorded message advising callers of the change of number.

Graham Ramsay, chief executive of Mid Essex Hospitals, said: “As a result of the move into the new hospital wing and the re-modelling of all other wards on the Broomfield Hospital site, it has been necessary to review and revise the hospital’s external telephone numbers. “This provided us with the ideal opportunity to fall into line with national strategy and change our externally facing telephone numbers to the local prefix.

“We recognise that using 0844 numbers has caused problems for some members of the public and our patients, so I am pleased we have made this decision.

“It will make contacting the hospital easier and cheaper for everyone. We have already contacted those members of the public who wrote to us with concerns about the 0844 numbers in the past, so this demonstrates that we do listen and act upon the feedback we receive.”

Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said: “Having long opposed the use of 0844 telephone numbers being used by the local hospital trust, I am delighted the chief executive has now taken the decision to change the external telephone numbers back to local codes.

“It has always struck me as ridiculous that members of the public should have to pay extra to telephone a public service provider, merely because the organisation preferred to use non-regional numbers.

“I know many of my constituents have found the 0844 numbers to be highly frustrating and now that the trust has made this decision, I do hope contacting the hospital will be easier and cheaper for everyone.”