NHS commissioners should step in and prevent IMH patients’ suffering, Swindon politicians have urged.

Their comments follow the departure of Dr Martyn Diaper, chief executive of the trouble-hit firm that oversees the management of five GP practices in the town.

He had been working to reduce the time patients were left waiting on the phone to book a GP appointment or sort repeat prescriptions, after the botched introduction of a central call-handling hub.

Sarah Church, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for South Swindon, called on the Swindon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group to step in: “Really, it’s time to have a look at whether IMH is able to deliver this service and if they’re not to make a change. Eight months later, to still have a large number of patients suffering very poor service is completely unacceptable.

“We’re well overdue this service being sorted out.”

Her comments were echoed by North Swindon opposite number Kate Linnegar: “This service covers 20 per cent of our population but no-one seems capable of sorting it out.

“The CCG is ultimately responsible for GP care of its residents. Patients are seriously concerned that someone will come to harm. They want to know when someone is going to take responsibility and sort out this mess.”

On Thursday night, North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson said enough was enough: “IMH has a lot to answer for and there are still huge improvements needed to the new medical hub.”

A spokesman for Swindon CCG said: “We continue to meet with IMH on a regular basis to review its ability to improve the services being offered to patients in Swindon.

“This is an ongoing process and the CCG has supported an external consultant to work alongside IMH to review demand, capacity and the redesign of how care is provided.

“IMH is currently interviewing for a new Clinical Director and this appointment will be key to determining the organisation’s ongoing sustainability.

“The CCG is also working closely with the Care Quality Commission to review recent quality concerns and, together with the CQC, we will continue to hold IMH to account.”

At the start of May, it was revealed IMH had been served with enforcement action by the CQC after concerns were flagged during recent inspections.Since the start of the year, one surgery linked to the firm has been rated as inadequate by the watchdog and another has been told to make improvements.