The government has admitted there is a chronic shortage of doctors in north Essex.

During a Parliamentary debate, Health minister David Mowat said action was being taken to resolve the problem.

He said he would be “surprised” if minor injuries units were closed.

The pledge came during a Commons discussion initiated by Clacton MP Douglas Carswell.

Mr Carswell said his constituents suffered due to a lack of GPs.

He told the House of Commons three GP practices won’t accept new patients, elderly patients were waiting several weeks to see a doctor and others felt abandoned.

The MP also said failing to provide people with primary care leads patients to use hospital A&E departments.

Mr Carswell branded consultation by North East Essex CCG over the future of the walk-incentre and minor injuries unit as “irresponsible”.

He said: “I share the view it would be absurd to shut that facility.”

Colchester MP Will Quince agreed, calling the units’ potential closure ridiculous. He said: “It will just put additional pressure on Colchester General Hospital.”

Mr Quince asked the Government to consider Colchester as a pilot in a £100million budget boost for triage services in accident and emergency units.

Harwich and North Essex MP Bernard Jenkin added Essex was “in the throes of so-called sustainability and transformation plans” and there had been underinvestment in primary care in Essex for 20 or 30 years.

Mr Jenkin said: “There has got to be a programme, supported by ministers, of investment in primary care in Essex so the GPs can do far more for their patients without sending them off to hospital.”

Mr Mowat acknowledged north Essex was “particularly short” of GPs.

He said: “There are 40 GP practices and a little over 210 GPs within the CCG, which covers over 330,000 people. The CCG estimates it is 28 GPs short.”

He said single GP surgeries were not viable and said the Government favoured larger medical hubs with extra specialist services.

He said he would also speak to his ministerial colleagues and ask them to write to Mr Quince about including Colchester General Hospital in the pilot triage scheme.

Mr Mowat added he thought the review of minor injuries units was because contracts were up for renewal.

About 3,500 replies had been sent to the CCG as part of the consultation.

Mr Mowat said: “I would be surprised if closure of the centres was top of the list, given the other pressures on GP practices."