Receptionists at a busy doctor’s surgery have quit after suffering months of verbal abuse at the hands of irate patients unable to get appointments.

Three of four full-time receptionists at the Whitehawk Medical Centre have resigned after reportedly being sworn at by patients trying to be seen by under-pressure doctors.

The practice has more than 3,000 registered patients and is currently staffed by one full-time GP and a locum doctor.

One of the receptionists, who did not want to be named, said attempts to explain the staffing situation were met with four-letter words.

She added: “We can’t give our patients what they want because we just don’t have enough doctors.

“We have the occasional locum come in, but it’s not enough.

“We get sworn at, get called jumped-up receptionists, and even threatened that someone will come down to the centre and sort us out.

“We don’t get any support from management and have just had enough.”

A spokeswoman of ChilversMcCrea, who run the surgery, said the two doctors currently working at the practice more than fulfilled the British Medical Association’s suggested ratio of GPs to patients.

Elizabeth Tinley, of NHS Brighton and Hove City Primary Care Trust, said they were “investigating” the level of medical cover at the Whitehawk medical practice.