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111 Calls

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ReformedCharacter
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111 Calls

#113443

Postby ReformedCharacter » January 26th, 2018, 11:43 am

Do you routinely block 'International' phone calls? :)

Towards the end of last year I started to receive plenty of 'International' calls, the usual variety of 'phone pests and scammers. Our phones do offer a call blocking facility but not for International calls. Consequently I connected a USB modem to a Raspberry Pi and used it to disconnect incoming 'International' calls. This seemed reasonable since I don't know anyone from outside the UK who is likely to 'phone me.

This worked well and almost as an afterthought I decided to arrange for the Raspberry Pi to email me each time it disconnected an 'International' call, so that I could keep a record of the number of calls (over 30 during Dec 2017). This might have saved my life...

Earlier this month I became unwell and Mrs RC called the NHS 111 system for advice. In case you have not used this service I will mention that one usually gets put through to a call handler who may advise the caller to call 999 or more likely wait to be called back by a doctor.

A few minutes later as I was waiting to be called back by a doctor I happened to notice email from the Raspberry Pi informing me that I had just received several 'International' calls. Fortunately I realised that it was likely to be the 111 doc returning my call so I disconnected the system and several minutes later a doc called and mentioned that they had tried twice previously but had been disconnected. It had never occurred to me that a 'local' call from the NHS might identify itself as 'International'.

As it happened, something bad happened to me shortly after arriving at A&E. Without wishing to over-dramatise the situation I will mention that had I been delayed a few more minutes and the bad thing happened whilst my wife was driving me to hospital I might not be here to write this.

Anyway, I have written to my local Clinical Commissioning Group suggesting that they get their telecoms provider to append an actual geographical number to whatever call system they use. I believe this should be possible.

I just thought I'd mention it here just in case other Lemonistas also block 'International' calls.

RC

FredBloggs
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Re: 111 Calls

#113445

Postby FredBloggs » January 26th, 2018, 11:52 am

Happy at the outcome for the OP. But, honestly, is this outsourcing that has gone just a bit too far? What next? GP appointments with a doctor in Bangladesh, Philippines, Zimbabwe by Skype :?:

ReformedCharacter
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Re: 111 Calls

#113452

Postby ReformedCharacter » January 26th, 2018, 12:12 pm

FredBloggs wrote:Happy at the outcome for the OP. But, honestly, is this outsourcing that has gone just a bit too far? What next? GP appointments with a doctor in Bangladesh, Philippines, Zimbabwe by Skype :?:

I don't think outsourcing is the problem (apart from the telecoms). I have no doubt that the return call from 111 was from within the UK, possibly within my local area. The problem I think is with the setup of the telecoms which presumably uses SIP (or some other similar system) routing calls via the Internet and consequently appearing as 'International'. Many organisations do something similar (schools for example) but AFAIK it is possible to arrange for these 'non-standard' 'phone systems to appear (as far as Caller ID is concerned) with a standard originating number.

RC

supremetwo
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Re: 111 Calls

#113464

Postby supremetwo » January 26th, 2018, 12:50 pm

It's not just 111.

Our phone display shows all numbers from the NHS trust as 'unavailable'.

bungeejumper
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Re: 111 Calls

#113618

Postby bungeejumper » January 27th, 2018, 9:17 am

ReformedCharacter wrote:I don't think outsourcing is the problem (apart from the telecoms). I have no doubt that the return call from 111 was from within the UK, possibly within my local area. The problem I think is with the setup of the telecoms which presumably uses SIP (or some other similar system) routing calls via the Internet and consequently appearing as 'International'.

Sounds very plausible. Thanks to the wonders of cloud computing, all sorts of local things are being processed on another continent. (Or appear to be, if that's where their services are registered.) But it strikes me that this isn't necessarily a problem that should be laid at the telephone provider's door. I don't mean to sound uncaring, but isn't this international call blocking idea a nifty wheeze that's backfired (in this instance) on the user? Maybe it's an idea that's gone out of date? ;)

BJ

ReformedCharacter
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Re: 111 Calls

#113659

Postby ReformedCharacter » January 27th, 2018, 12:55 pm

bungeejumper wrote:But it strikes me that this isn't necessarily a problem that should be laid at the telephone provider's door. I don't mean to sound uncaring, but isn't this international call blocking idea a nifty wheeze that's backfired (in this instance) on the user? Maybe it's an idea that's gone out of date? ;)
BJ

Yes, I accept that blocking International calls may not be a good idea and that it may be wiser to accept a load of unwanted calls, just in case. The reason I made the original post was not to whinge about the use of modern telephony but as a gentle warning to others who may also be doing something similar :)

Having said that, I have come across systems such as this one:

https://www.3cx.com/

That are capable of supplying the call recipient with a valid Caller ID but require the tech. setting the system up to actually configure the system to do so, ie. tick a box and enter the number rather than accept the default settings. Having previously looked into call scammers a little it would seem that some calls that really are made from India (say) do manage to spoof an apparently genuine Caller ID and therefore I suspect that at least some of the multifarious NHS phone systems could actually be configured to do so also.

I have contacted my local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group who seem to be taking my comment seriously and have promised to put me in touch with their 'service provider'. It will be interesting to see what they say.

RC

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Re: 111 Calls

#113706

Postby melonfool » January 27th, 2018, 5:29 pm

I think it is an important point to raise - having worked alongside the NHS in the past I doubt very much whether they know what their telecomms provider does with the number system and how this might affect their 'service users'.

I have successfully used the 111 service in the past and had the call back and been very happy with it as a service - and, for the record, I actually could't care less if I am speaking to a doctor in Bangladesh, it's the quality of service that counts.

Glad you are OK and that the CCG are taking time to consider what you have told them.

Mel


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