The body responsible for healthcare in Swindon has been branded “an apologist” for call centre fiasco firm IMH.

Emma Faramarzi, the Conservative councillor for Priory Vale, blasted the Clinical Commissioning Group over the the Manchester-based company’s disastrous management of GP surgeries in the town.

IMH was given the job of running back office functions by Taw Hill, Eldene and Phoenix surgeries and the Abbey Meads and Moredon medical centres last autumn but patients using all five have endured months of problems since.

During a council debate on healthcare Coun Faramarzi said even though IMH had agreed to step down, a replacement had not yet been found and the problems persist.

She said: “One of my constituents contacted me – she said she’d found a lump but had been been trying to get through for five weeks. This is simply not acceptable.”

She was very critical of the CCG, adding: “It has done nothing for us. All it did was act as an apologist for IMH.”

IMH gave up the contract after hundreds of complaints, with patients unable to get though to the switchboard to make appointments.

There were protests and even pickets by user groups until the company said it would not be providing support from mid-November this year.

Coun Faramarzi said: “I’m not surprised there has been an increase of people visiting the A&E department at the Great Western Hospital since IMH took over the surgeries.

“As Swindon borough councillors it’s sometimes very difficult to get the NHS to do what it should.

“Often the only avenue we had was to raise it in public.”

The CCG admitted that the episode had been unfortunate but said it put patients needs first.

A spokesman said: “Swindon CCG is, and has always been, committed to upholding the health and wellbeing of local people.

“And while we acknowledge the IMH situation has not provided a good experience for patients, our initial approach was to see if the practices could be supported to improve their services and, when this was not possible, appropriate contractual action was taken.

“As an organisation, we have always taken appropriate action in response to any situation that posed a threat to patient care and will continue to do so.”

The CCG is seeking new organisations to provide services to the practices affected.