VIRGIN Healthcare has pulled out of a plan to run a Swindon medical practice.

It emerged yesterday that Virgin had been in talks with doctors at Taw Hill Medical Practice, on Aiken Road, about creating a new clinic there.

If the plan had gone ahead it would have been the new healthcare company’s first UK location.

But yesterday Virgin confirmed the move was off.

A spokesperson for Virgin Healthcare said: “We were in discussions with a practice in Swindon and we’re not going to be proceeding.”

A spokesman for the Swindon practice said it would be business as usual for patients.

A statement from the practice read: “Dr Crouch & Dr June Morris wish to reassure patients in Swindon that NHS services at Taw Hill Medical Practice will be unaffected by the decision.

“General Medical Services will continue to be delivered and developed by Dr Peter Crouch and Dr June Morris at the Taw Hill Medical Practice.”

Caroline Fowles, speaking on behalf of Swindon PCT, said: “We are aware that Virgin Healthcare has announced that they are revisiting their pace of development for their new healthcare venture.

“We do understand that this means they have halted discussions with Taw Hill.”

A spokesperson for Virgin Healthcare refused to elaborate on why negotiations fell through because it is still in negotiations with other practices nationwide.

Gordon McCallum, Virgin Group UK Chief Executive, said: “Given the current economic conditions and the challenges within the sector we have decided to measure our pace and to evaluate a broader range of entry options.”

Dr Richard Carter, of the Whalebridge Practice, carefully monitored proposals for the new surgery.

He said: “We’re confused as to why they changed their minds. I wonder whether there is a strategy that no-one knows about?

Dr Carter said Virgin Healthcare may have pulled out because it could no longer see how it was going to profit from the venture.

“Perhaps there’s no money in it for the private companies.

“I know a lot of private providers are looking very closely at what’s happening.”

Councillor Peter Mallinson (Conservative, Walcot), chairman of the health overview and scrutiny committee, said he could not comment on aspects of the Virgin plan as talks were only at a concept stage.

He said: “There’s nothing wrong with improving health care and it wasn’t at the stage I saw intended to take anything away from anybody.

“I’m a bit disappointed it hasn’t progressed I would have liked to know what was going to come out of it.

“Now we’ll probably never know.”

The PCT confirmed that its contract with Taw Hill Practice still stood and that it expected business as usual for patients in North Swindon.