A GP has told how Dorset's health care system is under 'extreme pressure' - and claims Brexit is to blame for making doctors from overseas feel unwelcome.

As previously reported, a GP shortage, the pandemic and a backlog of treatment waiting lists has left surgeries across Dorset feeling the strain.

READ MOREGP shortage leaves Dorset health services under 'EXTREME pressure'

Weymouth GP Dr Jon Orrell, who has recently retired, said the past year was the busiest and most stressful time in his 35-year career as a doctor.

Dorset Echo: Weymouth GP Dr Jon OrrellWeymouth GP Dr Jon Orrell

He said it was due to various reasons - including the UK's decision to leave the European Union, which he said has made overseas GPs left feeling 'unwelcome'.

It comes as figures revealed the average number of GP patients at practices in Dorset is rising.

NHS Digital figures show 813,786 patients were registered at the 79 GP practices in the NHS Dorset CCG area, as of the end of June.

This meant each GP team was dealing with an average of 10,301 patients each – up slightly from 10,101 in June 2020.

The number of patients in Dorset increased by 5,738 over this time, while the number of practices fell by one.

The figures also reveal how one practice in Dorset has around 15 times as many patients as another. The Adam Practice in Poole has the most patients registered, with 34,338, while Bridport Medical Centre has the fewest – 2,285.

Dr Orrell, 59, who also serves as a local councillor, worked out of Weymouth's Royal Crescent Surgery.

Explaining the reasons behind the pressures on the health service, he described it as a 'perfect storm'.

He said: "There's a lack of trust by the Government in the public sector like teachers, police or doctors leading to intrusive inspection and monitoring. This demoralises previously highly motivated professionals.

"A crisis in numbers of doctors has been brewing since 2015.

"Also pension changes have made older doctors give up.

"Too few new GPs are being trained; 5,000 were promised at the election, but not delivered.

"In the past overseas trained doctors bailed out the deficit.

"Now Brexit has made doctors (from overseas) feel unwelcome. Add Covid-19 and the restrictions on usual work and it's the final straw.

"GPs have been working on the vaccine rollout - so busy phone lines are caused by reception teams ringing thousands of patients to get them protected."

Dr Orrell said a positive aspect to come out of the pandemic is patients are now ordering repeat prescriptions online through using eConsult, which has alleviated some pressure.

Dr Orrell added: "I reached retirement age this year and have to say that the last year has been the busiest and most stressful time in my 35 years as a doctor.

"The NHS was underfunded and understaffed before Covid. Now it is in need of a transfusion of more staff, beds and investment."

The British Medical Association (BMA) said a rapid expansion of the GP workforce across England is needed.

Richard Vautrey, chairman of the BMA’s GP committee said: "Numbers of GPs are falling while demand rises, leaving us with a severe shortage.

"With a growing and ageing population, only a medical workforce expansion will give us hope that we can offer good quality care to everyone in the future.”