A chronic shortage of GPs has left some UK surgeries with one permanent doctor caring for as many as 11,000 people, a shocking new investigation has claimed.
Patients registered at the worst-hit practices have reported waiting up to nine weeks for appointments.
These surgeries have more than six times the national average number of patients per GP, according to The Times.
The findings also reveal that parents of young children and elderly people have called ambulances or gone to A&E departments before because it is so hard to see their doctor.
The investigation looked into the most severely understaffed practices in the country.
It also claimed that almost one in five appointments are now taken by a GP in training.
The number of permanent fully qualified GPs in England has fallen by 1,700 – despite a pledge by former Prime Minister David Cameron five years ago that an extra 5,000 GPs would be placed into the health service.
Since 2015, 6% of these GPs have left the NHS, while patient numbers have risen from 57 million to 60 million.
The average permanent fully qualified GP is caring for more than 200 more patients than four years ago.
However, many GPs are retiring early or deciding to work fewer hours, according to The Times.
The Tory manifesto pledged 6,000 more doctors in GP surgeries and 6,000 more primary care staff such as physiotherapists and pharmacists.
Boris Johnson also promised 50,000 nurses, but came under fire when it came to attention that nearly half of them are already working for the NHS.
During his election campaign in November, it was revealed that 18,500 of the 50,000 were existing nurses who the government hopes to persuade to remain in the workforce.
Mr Johnson also included 12,500 foreign nurses who they will recruit from abroad to help plug the existing vacancy gap, which currently stands at more than 43,000.
Labour pointed out only 19,000 posts would be filled by brand-new nurse trainees.
The NHS was one of the issues that took centre stage in the Queen’s speech on Thursday after it came top of the nation’s concerns, along with Brexit.
During the speech, legislation was confirmed that will ensure the service receives an extra £33.9 billion per year by 2023/24.