BT’s priority fault repair service for telephone lines at GP practices is to end on 31 March, according to NHS Connecting for Health.

Peter Dyke, head of industry liaison for CfH, has written to primary care trust chief executives to notify them that BT is to discontinue its Priority Repair Fault Service (PRFS) for all except 999 emergency services from 1 April.

The letter tells PCTs that they “may or may not” knowingly make use of the service for a number of its sites, including GP practices, GPs’ homes and other nominated telephone lines used by primary care organisations.

Dyke says the agreement has run since 1999 and means that, in the event of a fault on a nominated line, priority is given to rectifying the fault sooner than might otherwise be the case for a non-prioritised line.

The letter says the change may have implications for PCTs and GP practices, depending on their use of BT-provided phone lines, the reliability of the PCT’s telephony and data communications infrastructure, and any alternative arrangements for business continuity in the event of faults occurring with BT provided telephone lines.

PCTs are advised to decide whether the withdrawal of the service means they should conduct a review of the basis on which all telephony and data services are provided.

The letter adds: “The objective of the review should be both to ensure that appropriate business continuity arrangements are in place (to offset any potential issues arising from the termination of the BT PFRS service) but also to identify general opportunities to improve quality and efficiency, taking into account new technologies and centrally subsidised services available via N3.”

In the letter, Dyke says BT is entitled to terminate its service under OFCOM regulations. He also states that the reliability of telephony services has improved significantly since the PFRS was originally provided and that a large number of mobile solutions are now available as well as internet telephony and voice services via N3.

The letter, dated 11 February, states that BT will shortly be writing to each individual site registered with PFRS to inform them of the change.