A NEATH Valley surgery is denying that patients are having to use a premium line number — and says that the 0844 they use is actually a local call rate number.
The Vale of Neath General Practice have responded to regional AM Suzy Davies, who wrote to the practice after speaking to residents in Resolven.
They had complained they had to use an 0844 number to ring the surgery, despite an 01639 number being published six months ago.
However, practice manager Roy Miller said that a local number was not installed then, but was published by someone who had discovered the underlying number.
He said: "The 0844 number isn’t a premium rate number, it’s a local call rate number, though it is not treated as such necessarily on bills for other suppliers."
Last year, it was reported in a meeting of Glynneath Town Council that the local line had been installed.
But Mr Millar said a new contract had only recently been signed for one and that there were issues with the exchange at the practice.
Mrs Davies had described the news that patients were using the 0844 number as "ludicrous", adding it was wrong that sick people had to deal with higher charges.
A spokesman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said: "Although GP practices can use an 0844 number they must put arrangements in place so that no patient pays more than they would for a geographical - 01639 in this case - number.
"The practice gave assurances a new telephone system was being installed that would enable the use of an 01639 number on a number of lines in the same way as the 0844 number, with effect from January 1 2014.
"However, we have since discovered this has been delayed due to system problems requiring further testing by BT and that no installation date can yet be confirmed.
"We are working with the practice as a matter of urgency to confirm the installation date, to ensure it fulfils its obligation to make the 01639 number available to patients."