MP for North Swindon

Justin Tomlinson MP

GP Update 12/02/19


I wanted to provide another update in relation to the ongoing issues at the GP hub which are both hugely frustrating and unacceptable.

I have been working on this issue on a daily basis, throughout the past few weeks and months, with several meetings, emails and phone calls, to raise residents’ concerns and scrutinise what steps the Hub needs to take to improve the situation. I wanted to reiterate that I have been doing all that I can since the very beginning to get these issues addressed - the only people who are in a clear position to make urgent improvements are IMH, and they clearly need to provide more call-handlers.

I have spoken to the Chief Executive of IMH yesterday who has informed me that they have had extra staff manning the phones at the start of this week. I have made it clear that they still need to address this issue properly and permanently, with extra call handlers hired. I have asked why the number of call handlers has seemingly gone down since last November, resulting in very bad experiences in January.

The Hub’s Manager Nigel Sweeney has now left. I have been told that they are bringing in a “new substantive manager from one of our other successful sites.” I have also been told that IMH’s finance and operational team are in Swindon this week (w/c Monday 11th) remodelling the staffing of call handlers.

In regards to my ongoing enquiries with the CQC, I have received the following message below from them:

"We are grateful for the information shared by Mr Justin Tomlinson MP on behalf of his constituents, outlining concerns regarding IMH and the provisions of GP services in the Swindon area, more specifically with regards to five GP practices. CQC inspection colleagues are familiar with some of the intelligence that you have shared with us and we will add it to that which we already hold, to support our monitoring of the services. I will provide some background information.

In August 2018 the CQC began receiving complaints regarding access to GP appointments and difficulty accessing booking services via telephone for five GP practices in Swindon. This coincided with IMH introducing a hub arrangement for the service to support all five GP practices in Swindon, commissioned by the local clinical commissioning group (CCG). The hub is based in Moredon Medical Centre and is being registered with us as a separate legal entity and provider, i.e. not IMH, rather as ‘Better Health Partnership’. Registration is ongoing and we have been heavily engaged with Better Health Partnership and the umbrella organisation IMH in efforts to expedite the registration process. When registration is complete we will conduct a risk based inspection that will occur within 12 months of the registration being completed. This may be sooner rather than later reflecting on the intelligence we hold at that time.

In addition to engaging with the provider we are also regularly meeting with CCG and NHSE colleagues. In December last year we were provided with information and assurances about action being taken to provide support that is intended to deliver improvements to the service. Collectively we continue to monitor the situation.

The registration process continues and in January this year CQC registration inspectors again visited the provider. During the visit we were provided with assurances about improvements and actions that are being undertaken. Our local CQC inspections team continues to collate and review the intelligence received from the public, patients and local stakeholder organisations including Healthwatch. We will monitor the ongoing situation with the five practices in Swindon and the patient experience of accessing appropriate and timely care from their GP. Nationally our relationship owner for IMH is also fully aware of the situation in Swindon and is fully engaged with IMH executive team."

In response to this, I have requested to speak directly to the CQC’s local inspection team asap as I believe if there are any more long phone waits this week, the CQC will have to conduct an inspection immediately (if they are able to do so).

With this in mind, could any residents who have experienced long waits this week (from Monday 11th Feb onwards) please email me the details – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. – so I can feed this in as very much an ongoing problem when I speak to the CQC team.

Many thanks as always.

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