HALTON has the highest patient to GP ratio in Merseyside and significantly worse than the rest of England.

The borough’s 128,775 patients are served by only 74 doctors.

This means that each GP is looking after an average of 1,740 patients, compared to the national average of 1,575.

The alarming figures were discovered by Halton MP Derek Twigg through a parliamentary question.

He has vowed to press health chiefs to take immediate action.

He said: “This is very disturbing. People are increasingly complaining about being unable to get a GP appointment.

“Many have to wait a number of weeks.

“Halton has some of the poorest health outcomes in the country with high rates of cancer, heart disease and strokes. It beggars belief that the health service has allowed this to happen.”

He said health chiefs are constantly encouraging people to seek urgent medical advice if they suspect symptoms of cancer.

Mr Twigg added: “Doctors tell us that early diagnosis is crucial to receive early treatment but this is a problem if people can’t get appointments.

“I want to know why Halton has so few doctors. This is unacceptable. GPs work very hard but we need more to relieve the pressure.

“NHS England needs urgently to address this shortfall of GPs in Halton.”

St Helens has 122 GPs with 1,587 people to each doctor, whilst Knowsley has 111 GPs with each caring for 1,450 patients.

Tom Knight, head of primary care for NHS England (Merseyside), said: “NHS England is committed to improving access to GPs for patients and will follow up on any complaint it receives to ensure GP practices are delivering on the terms of their contract.

“We acknowledge MP Derek Twigg’s comments about GP numbers in Halton and are working with Halton CCG and other relevant stakeholders to address any concerns about shortfalls.

"The NHS England (Merseyside) Operational Plan 2014-16 – which is due to be published shortly to relevant local stakeholders– sets out our commitment to deliver a workforce plan for Merseyside to ensure we have the right number of GPs deployed in the right areas.

“The safety and care of patients is our top priority and we will take steps to ensure that all patients in the area continue to have access to high quality, local primary care services.”