A DOCTOR shortage crisis has turned routine healthcare into a nightmare, according to a Kirby resident.

The number of permanent doctors staffing GP surgeries in Frinton and Walton has dropped to an all-time low due to problems recruiting new doctors to the area.

Valerie Brunt, of Southcroft Close in Kirby Cross, lost her local surgery in Kirby last year when a lack of staff forced it to close its doors.

She suffers from persistent problems with arthritis but has struggled to see a doctor.

Her next closest surgery is Caradoc in Frinton, which is down to one permanent doctor for more than 8,000 residents, making appointments hard to come by.

Valerie said: “If I need an appointment now I would have to go over to Walton.

“I’ve had to start trying to sort myself out because I just cannot easily see a doctor, but that is not an option for some people. It has become a nightmare.”

NHS England has previously said it is aware of the problem and is working to improve the situation for patients.

A spokesman said NHS England is working to develop a long-term plan to attract more GPs to the area.