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At the heart of general practice since 1960

GPs may have to say 'over to you, matron'

On Christmas Day, honeymooners Sue and Aled Price were enjoying a cocktail cruise off the Thai island of Phi Phi.

The next day they were surveying a scene of devastation after the tsunami struck their resort, and Dr Sue Price, a GP in Plymouth, was treating the wounded.

'I feel so lucky to be alive,' she said. 'If it had hit 12 hours earlier we would have been limbo dancing on the boat deck.'

When the tsunami struck at about 11am on Boxing Day the couple noticed an unusually large wave and found themselves ankle-deep in water. But they didn't realise immediately how serious it was.

Then they saw a woman running down the road crying hysterically. She had lost her husband and two sons.

Along with a newly qualified Argentinian doctor, Dr Price started treating people in the resort reception. 'I'm a GP registrar and it's not that long since I was in A&E, but we had nothing to close wounds with.'

Later, other doctors joined and set up a makeshift clinic with sterile kit which could provide antibiotics. 'People were coming in with cuts and bruises and shock, they were very distressed. But nearby we heard stories of dead bodies.'

Next day the couple discovered two bodies washed up on a nearby beach, including a 10-year-old girl. The body of a Swiss woman was later found, the only confirmed death at the resort. But a village 300 metres away was flattened.

Dr Price said she did not know what to do after the immediate crisis had subsided. 'I did not know whether to go to worse-hit areas or stay and wait for people to come. The nearest hospital was wiped out. I felt guilty whatever I did. It was so confusing, I had a multitude of emotions, feeling helpless and inadequate and not knowing what to do.'

She added: 'Our life will go back to normality, but it won't for those poor people.'

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