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Dr Peter Biggs is one of 25 GPs who have combined to set up a private out-of-hours service in response to moves by local PCTs to cut the number of GP shifts.

ChaucerDoc in Canterbury will charge patients £55 for an appointment. The service runs on a profit-share basis, with the GPs guaranteeing they will also work for the PCT out-of-hours provider.

Dr Biggs said it was the 'stated aim' of PCTs in Kent to have a nurse-run service.

He said: 'Within two years it'll be virtually impossible to see a GP out of hours.

'A lot of patients live over 40 miles away and are on their way home from work. We're providing convenience for a very reasonable price.'

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