Councillors have been told that Essex is facing a workforce crisis, with very high numbers of nurses and GPs planning to retire by 2020.

The worst hit place in the country – Castle Point and Rochford – has just over 40 GPs per 100,000 patients – 47 per cent of whom are 55 and over.

Tricia D-Orsi, chief nurse for Castle Point and Rochford CCG, told councillors in the Essex Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee today: “We have very high numbers of nurses and GPs who are planning to retire by 2020. It is a crisis.

“For us in Castle point and Rochford we have the worst numbers for potential recruitment and retention in place for 2020.

“We know that our numbers are the worst in the country.

“So we have worked very hard with all of our GP members to think about how we can deliver a differing offer to patients for the future with the workforce and looking at a service that would be GP led not necessarily GP delivered.”

In Basildon and Brentwood the number of GPs aged 55 and over is 31.3 per cent, in Mid Essex they make up 28.3 per cent, in North East Essex they make up 24.3 per cent and in West Essex they make up 21.7 per cent.

All CCG’s are focusing on local recruitment and retention to address the challenges faced both now and projected for the future.

There are a range of initiatives to address this challenge, and where this can be done collectively this is being pursued.

Managers say they are concentrating on recruiting and retaining significantly more GPs and practice nurses, to develop new roles and recruit a wider set of skills and disciplines into primary care, including pharmacists, GP assistants and mental health specialists.

They are also concentrating on reducing workload and making current roles more attractive.

Caroline Rassell, accountable officer for Mid Essex CCG, said: “Each CCG has its own workforce plan that is very much built from the needs of its local populations.

“We are not looking at having the same type of workforce in each cluster or practice.

“If we have an elderly cohort we are looking at GPs with longer appointments to see this type of patients.

“When it is a more mobile population we are looking at for example physios as a first point.

“There are separate workforce model across all CCGs in mid and south Essex but the aim is to buy, procure and secure the workforce to match the population need.”