ENOUGH is enough – that’s the message from the council’s leader who wants answer from the firm behind the GP phoneline fiasco in Swindon.

It follows months of chaos for patients of five GP surgeries following the introduction of a new central call handling system.

Now councillors have called for a report on the firm behind the new system, Integrated Medical Holdings and an improvement in performance.

Borough council leader David Renard is to write to the town’s clinical commissioning group, which oversees non-hospital medical services.

The firm has been dogged with complaints about the system since it was introduced in September last year.

The Adver reported patients endured waits of up to an hour to get through and difficulties booking appointments or obtaining prescriptions. An NHS worker also said IMH had caused the prescription ordering service to be swamped with more than 2,500 extra phone calls.

Protests have been staged outside surgeries and this week North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said the delays were unacceptable.

At the full borough council meeting Coun Dale Heenan urged the council leader to contact the CCG requesting a report from them on the introduction of IMH services chosen by five NHS surgeries in Swindon.

“What improvements have been made since the introduction compared to a year ago, what impact has there been on the A&E department at GWH,” he asked.

“We need details of the measures needed and changes necessary to stop continued complaints such as long telephone waits, and no appointments being available and lessons learnt by both the surgeries and clinical commissioning group, highlighting some clear actions that can be used to help them and other practices improve.”

Coun Renard said he would: “The council’s role is to hold external bodies and organisations to account, on behalf of its residents.

“This can take the form of lobbying, private meetings or to call them to scrutiny meetings for a public debate.

“Ultimately, these bodies are autonomous and answerable to their government department, board, or owners, and the council has no direct control over them.

“I fully appreciate resident frustration on this issue, IMH must do better and I am happy to request the CCG investigates further, and answers every point Coun Heenan raises in full.”

The call handling system was introduced in September at Eldene, Moredon, Abbey Meads, Taw Hill and Phoenix surgeries.

The chief medical officer at IMH, Dr David Jones, has replied in full to the Adver in response to the concerns.

After the meeting Coun Heenan said: “Eldene Surgery was rated as Good by the NHS Watchdog last April so I have confidence in the doctors and staff.

“This issue is centred on the non-clinical services provided by IMH to five surgeries across North Swindon and East Swindon. Performance seems hit and miss, some good comments but still a lot of complaints about long call times and problems with obtaining appointments.

“We need a full investigation, and report, by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group on what has happened, what is being done to address problems with long call waits and access to appointments and find out what lessons can be learnt from this saga. I would ask for full scrutiny of key performance indicators to measure how well IMH thinks it has been delivering this service”

“I would ask IMH to provide a cooperative and collaborative approach with NHS England to work with all parties to make this the excellent service delivered by outstanding people that we have all come to appreciate in our NHS”

Coun Heenan added that he was concerned that people who are already ill or injured may feel intimidated by continuing protests outside the surgeries.