The biggest doctors’ surgery in the Alton area has laid bare the “extraordinary pressure” faced by GPs in an open letter to its patients.

In February The Wilson Practice, based at Alton Health Centre in Anstey Road, handled 4,036 eConsults and took 3,657 calls – equivalent to 45 per cent of its total registered patient list contacting the practice in one month.

Its letter said: “Most of you will be aware that our NHS is under extraordinary pressure. This is particularly true of general practice. There are increased expectations from our government and our patients about what we should be doing.

“Increasing hospital waiting lists also have a big impact on us. Patients who are waiting to see specialists, or for treatment or operations, inevitably need more input from us to support them during their wait.”

The practice said it had been under “increased financial pressure” for the last few years, with annual government funding increases of two per cent failing to even come close to covering its current costs.

It added: “The impact of the financial pressures is already being felt. In recent months we have lost several members of staff, some of whom we cannot afford to replace.

“As a result the clinical and administrative teams per patient population are becoming smaller. We have had to greatly reduce locum cover and overtime.”

The practice said that “without significant change” there was a real risk it could close: “All of our staff are working extremely hard to provide the best level of care they can. We cannot work any harder.

“The current financial pressures and staffing levels mean that we will not always be able to offer the same level of service you are used to. We can only offer the level of service we are funded for.”