GPs in South Essex are struggling under their “unmanageable” workload and NHS England is looking at other ways patients can get care from their doctor.

A Westcliff GP, who asked not to be named, said that the workload strain on GPs was affecting their mental health and patient care.

His views echo the results of a study by the British Medical Association (BMA) which found that 57 per cent of its members felt their workload was unmanageable, with a further 27 per cent saying it was excessive.

The South East and the West Midlands both had 86 per cent of doctors saying their workload was unmanageable.

The doctor said: “The workload is unmanageable because you have people being sent to GPs from the hospital, social services and patient services.

“There is also a new system of clinical commissioning groups that the Government said would decrease the amount of bureaucracy, but it has actually increased it.

“Then there is also the amount of paperwork.

“We have to be compliant with the Care Quality Commission and the General Medical Council’s revalidation.

“It means that there is paperwork for everything that we do.

“It is like asking a pilot to work a seven-hour shift, and then another seven-hour shift straight away - you wouldn’t do that.”

He added that NHS England was looking into ways of allowing patients to be diagnosed and treated for conditions without actually speaking to a GP, for example through an increase in phone consultations.

The Babylon Health app, is already being trialled in two GP practices at Eastwood Group Practices, in Southend, and Highlands Surgery, in Leigh, since March 2015.

The app enables patients to check their symptoms for a diagnosis, chat with their GP face-to-face via a video link and order prescriptions.

If successful, this app could be rolled out to other practices.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “We are investing in primary care precisely to relieve pressure on the frontline.

“This will improve patient safety, with an extra £2.4billion of funding, 5,000 more doctors in general practice and 1,500 more pharmacists in surgeries by 2020.

“We’re expanding the workforce so well-resourced GPs can give even higher standards of care.”