A GP has promised a village surgery will not be closing after fears were raised ahead of a public meeting.

A meeting, organised by the parish council, on the future of healthcare in Tillingham took place on Monday.

More than 80 people turned out at Tillingham village hall in Vicarage Lane for the talk by Dr Julie McGeachy.

Residents cheered and applauded as Dr McGeachy announced that the meeting wasn’t about the surgery, in South Street, closing or her retiring.

She said after working with the NHS for more than 30 years, she has seen many changes in her medical practice, such as less home visits and an increased workload.

“When I started, people were dying in their seventies,” Dr McGeachy said.

“Now, they’re dying in their nineties. We’re a victim of the NHS’ success.

“Nowadays, the people I see in my surgery have problems that are much more complex.

“We’re not seeing GP numbers go up.

“In our practice, we have 2,240 patients per GP.”

Nurses in the practice are now being trained up to prescribe medicine and run certain diagnostics.

Other improvements include database software being used and better training for admin staff.

The future plans have been made possible thanks to funding being released from the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group.

Dr McGeachy said: “My feeling is that things are getting better.

“The plan for next year is that we are going to have trainees.

“We’re developing a traineeship with the Maylandsea and Southminster practices.”

Dr McGeachy also gave advice on how patients can optimise how their practice is used.

Advice included asking a nurse, pharmacist or online resources for certain issues, prioritising more serious problems to the GP at the start of a meeting, and how to deal with hospital results.

She added: “In summary, we are under pressure but we’re fighting back.

“We put you at the heart of what we do, and we want to give you the best and safest service.

“If you do have any issues, do let us know.”

When asked about her thoughts on future housing developments, she responded that Tillingham would not cope if there was an immediate housing increase.

She also expressed her concerns that immigration issues around Brexit and underfunding were contributing to low GP numbers.

Councillor Robert Harvey said that having the meeting separate from a regular council meeting was “the right thing to do”.

Mr Harvey also praised Dr McGeachy for her informative talk and mentioned that there were “no gripes” being put forward by the public.

Residents stated how lucky they were to have the surgery and thanked Dr McGeachy for the informative evening.