THE phones fiasco at IMH’s GP surgeries is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, it has been revealed.

In the past week, what have been described as “significant difficulties” have emerged in the telephone system used at the trouble-hit GP firm’s central hub.

The Manchester-based firm oversees care at five practices in the town.

Online, patients calling the Moredon hub in an effort to book GP appointments have complained of waiting an hour on the telephone.

Kate Linnegar, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for North Swindon, said: “The problems are still daily and as bad as they have been before. People speaking to me have said there’s been no improvement.”

While efforts are being made to sort the latest problems, there is no timeline for the issues to be resolved.

And now, Swindon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, the body responsible for commissioning GP care in the town, said it has issued IMH with a remedial notice demanding improvements. It follows enforcement action taken by the regulator, the Care Quality Commission.

Quizzed on the issues at IMH by Liden, Eldene and Park South ward councillor Bazil Solomon, Swindon CCG’s governing body said in a written statement: “The ongoing access issues that patients have in trying to get an appointment with the practice is still a major concern.

“In the past week, IMH has become aware of significant difficulties with the phone system and has informed the CCG of this. The phone provider is trying to resolve these issues. At this time there is no timeline for this resolution.”

The CCG said it was paying for an external consultant to review demand on the IMH hub and to work with the firm to model how best to ensure that supply of call handlers meets demand.

A spokesman added: “The CCG is undertaking a formal contractual process in line with the NHS contract terms to assess the current and future position of the IMH group of practices. The next formal contract meeting is on May 28 and will involve all the partners of the practices as well as IMH senior management.

“This legal contractual process needs to be followed in order for the CCG to make any changes to the contract. The CCG has issued IMH with a remedial notice, which contains assurance requirements. This, alongside the CQC reporting requirements and meetings with IMH senior staff is informing the CCG of the current position.”

Following the letter, Coun Solomon said: “The chronic lack of access to our local Swindon surgeries makes us all ill at ease.

“The evidence shows an almost fatal lack of access for patients. Any of our good NHS doctors and nurses would a long time ago have prescribed an injection of good faith and courage to IMH.”