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New advice on treating patients from overseas

Five years ago, one of our partners left because he could earn more as a locum, so we started trying to recruit to replace him. Two years later, another partner left, because he could earn more as a locum, so we continued advertising with equal lack of success, and the PCT would not help in any way at all.

My remaining partner is due to retire in 12 months. We have 8,000 patients, me, a nurse practitioner of the highest possible quality, a fully equipped modern surgery, fantastic staff, and have scored well on the QOF despite relying on the vagaries of locum inputting and a defective Torex system, which is being fixed.

We are offering high drawings, the prospect of seven sessions with a half-day for paperwork, a month's sabbatical every second year, no out-of-hours except voluntarily at the local co-op, the chance to follow GPwSI or have an in-house clinic in some specialty, smashing patients and no hierarchy once the senior partner has retired.

Property around here is cheap ­ you get a lot for your money ­ and we are very near the sea and the famous Ramsgate Harbour. The countryside is a short drive away and Manston Airport even closer. Eurotunnel, cross-Channel ferries, the planned fast link to London by rail are all on the doorstep.

But, to keep my surgery open, we need four or five of us to fit the infrastructure already in place. So I wrote to the Department of Health, the GMC, the deanery and the LMC for help.

I was ignored by the department. The other three informed me that the PCT were obliged to help and I should approach them. So I wrote to the PCT again, asking for help. Their reply included a list of recruitment options, the first being:

·'Recruit three more partners.'

Any takers? I think I shall be throwing in the towel next month.

Dr Susanna Timmins

Ramsgate, Kent

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