PATIENTS met with the managers of a controversial new call centre system which has led to problems booking appointments, collecting prescriptions and getting continuing support for medical conditions.

Concerns have been raised over the system which handles all calls to Eldene, Taw Hill, Toothill, Moredon surgeries and the Abbey Meads Medical Group’s Penhill, Crossroads and Abbey Meads surgeries.

The Advertiser, which has reported on patients' anger, was prevented from attending the patient participation group forum, which was organised by Healthwatch Swindon and chaired by Jo Osorio.

Nigel Sweeney, of Integrated Medical Holdings, which now oversees the surgeries, left 10 minutes before the meeting ended and ignored the cameraman and a BBC reporter who tried in vain to get a response from him as he walked to his car.

He had spoken to patients at the meeting held at Sanford House yesterday.

Bazil Solomon, parish councillor for Nythe, Eldene and Liden, was in the forum and was not impressed by the solutions offered by IMH.

He said:“It is currently a leadership of despair. It was a tense meeting. People talked about a lack of appointments, waiting on the telephone, no continuity. These patients are in trouble.

“I’ve heard similar complaints recently from residents who are angry with the new system, including one disabled woman who felt that there was no support, compassion or care.

“Mr Sweeney was blaming everyone else for the problems - the Care Quality Commission the clinical commissioning group, etc.

“He apologised for the fact that everything went disastrously wrong. The way forward is apparently hiring more people. He intends to hire more GPs, pharmacists, and advanced nurses but I’m not sure that that will fix it.”

Coun Solomon plans to host a peaceful protest outside Eldene Surgery on November 29 to draw attention to poor treatment of residents who use the practice.