A SHORTAGE of GPs at doctors surgeries on the north Essex coastline is set to be exacerbated in the new year.

A task force has already been set up by North East Essex clinical commissioning group after a survey found the ratio of patients to GPs in parts of Tendring was too high.

But in a meeting with Frinton and Walton Town Council, surgery managers revealed the number of staff members would drop even further in the new year.

By the end of January Frinton’s Caradoc Surgery will be down to one full-time doctor and two practice nurses.

Walton’s surgery will also drop down to four doctors.

Frinton councillor Nick Turner said: “Being so short makes the surgeries very close to unviable. From this point we don’t know what will happen.”

Temporary locums are being brought in on a regular basis to make up the shortfall at vast financial cost, but that has been described as a temporary solution.

GPs in Colchester have also agreed to help out.

Walton councillor Delyth Miles said: “This is a very serious concern. It affects every one of us and our thousands of residents.

“We need to put pressure on the relevant authorities from as many avenues as possible.

“It is a frightening situation to find ourselves in. This puts the health of our area at risk and that is terrifying.”

Surgery bosses say the cash is there to bring new doctors in, but they are not getting anyone applying for the jobs.

Mayor Iris Johnson said: “We cannot accept this. There are 20,000 people here who need properly staffed medical facilities.

“I know the Government said there would be casualties when money cutbacks are made, but these are not acceptable casualties.”

Town councillors agreed to write to NHS England outlining the seriousness of the situation and appeal for help.

Councillors will also be appointed to work with the surgeries and patient groups.