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GP candidate is a voice of independence

Singlehanded GPs need to make cast-iron plans for their 'succession' to ensure their practice survives when they leave or retire, the GPC has advised.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, said a succession plan, such as searching out a replacement doctor before retirement, would ensure PCTs could not make a 'discriminatory' decision to close the practice.

Other options would include arranging with PCTs to install a salaried doctor either employed by the trust or under an alternative primary medical services contract.

Dr Meldrum said health minister John Hutton had given him a personal assurance there were no plans to 'get rid' of singlehanders, but he believed that message had not been passed on to PCTs.

Dr Laurence Buckman, GPC deputy chair, called on ministers to ensure NHS managers heard their private assurances about singlehanders.

He said: 'It would be appreciated if ministerial assurances were reinforced by instructions to NHS managers.'

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