Phone system blamed for Swindon GP booking woes

Telephone keypad
Image caption Some patients said they were kept waiting on the phone for an hour only to be told there were no appointments

A "technical issue" with a phone booking system is thought to be behind long waits for appointments and blood test results at GP surgeries.

Integral Medical Holdings (IMH) took over services for five health centres and 50,000 patients in Swindon in 2017.

But patients said some had been kept waiting on the phone for an hour only to be told there were no appointments.

IMH said it has increased the number of appointments available through its online booking system.

Some patients told the BBC of three to four-week waiting lists and claimed "it was quicker to phone the hospital instead" to access blood test results.

'Unfortunate situation'

Swindon's Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the Care Quality Commission have both acknowledged problems and said they were closely monitoring IMH's delivery of care.

The CCG said a remedial notice had been issued to IMH and it would be meeting with the group to review what progress had been made.

An IMH spokeswoman said: "As soon as the problem came to light we liaised with the telephone service provider Premier [Choice Group] to rectify it.

"Premier has now confirmed in the last week that a technical issue rather than user error is causing this unfortunate situation and we are working with them on a joint action plan to resolve this technical fault as soon as possible."

Premier Choice Group said it would not be commenting on the issue.

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