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An Essex PCT has been accused of 'engineering a calamity' after it failed to organise a stand-in GP for a singlehanded practice patients had battled to save.

Outgoing GP Dr Ashley Pain has warned that the Hoppit surgery in Danbury could be left with no premises, no drug account, no telephones and no insurance if he retires as planned.

Despite bowing to patient pressure and agreeing to advertise for another singlehanded GP to take over the practice, Maldon and South Chelmsford PCT has not yet found a 'caretaker GP' for the interim period.

'I won't let the practice fall apart and if that means letting the staff use the practice for

a while then so be it,' Dr

Pain said. But he added: 'On one front the PCT seem to be engineering a calamity. They had six months to sort this out.'

Dr Pain said that unless the trust found a GP to take over the practice temporarily the surgery would be unable to function.

The PCT agreed to advertise for another singlehanded GP to take over the practice following a vigorous campaign and a petition signed by more than 1,000 protesters.

Mike Harrison, the trust's chief executive, said the PCT was in disucssion with a potential caretaker GP and hoped to 'sign them up soon'. In the meantime, the PCT had taken Dr Pain up on his offer to delay his retirement for another month.

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