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Private care provider to stop running GP appointments after technical issues

A private company has lost its contract to run GP appointment systems in five Swindon surgeries.

Swindon CCG announced last week that the firm had decided to withdraw from its contract with Integral Medical Holdings (IMH) due to the high number of patient complaints about difficulties to get in touch with the surgeries and book appointments. 

The CCG initially issued IMH with a breach notice, requiring the provider to take immediate action.  

But following a meeting between the CCG, IMH and senior clinical staff, IMH agreed to end its contract with the practices.

Swindon CCG wrote in a statement: ‘Following lengthy discussions, and in light of ongoing challenges, Swindon CCG can confirm that IMH will withdraw from its operations in Swindon.

‘Since September 2018, the IMH Group had been working in partnership with five GP practices – Moredon Medical Centre, Abbey Meads Medical Centre, Phoenix Surgery, Eldene Surgery and Taw Hill Medical Practice – to provide a range of consolidated back-office services, such as administration, recruitment and IT services.’

The statement added: ‘During this time, patients have continually raised concerns at the difficulties faced when attempting to contact their surgery and book appointments using the newly-introduced single contact centre, often referred to as the Hub. Many of these issues have been linked to technical faults with the hardware system and, although engineers are currently working to address the problem, the CCG fully acknowledges that many patients are still experiencing issues.’

IMH Group interim managing director Elaine Young said: ‘IMH Group is sorry for the distress caused by the recurring issues with the new telephone booking system we introduced at our hub of five GP practices in Swindon.

‘As soon as the problem came to light, we liaised with the telephone service provider Premier to rectify it. Unfortunately, Premier only acknowledged last week that the situation is being caused by technical issues rather than user error. Their engineers are currently on site working on addressing the problem.

She continued: ‘In light of these technical challenges, however, and following lengthy discussions with Swindon CCG, IMH Group has regretfully taken the decision to withdraw from the contract. We will work closely with Swindon CCG to ensure the handover to a new provider is as smooth as possible and patients can access their primary care services.’

Pulse previously reported that two Midlands practices run by the IMH Group were at risk of closure, potentially affecting 14,700 patients.