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Jury service call-ups for three partners already this year have played havoc with Dr Bill Tamkin's practice.

Dr Tamkin, a GP in Withington, Manchester, said he had no objections to GPs being called up for jury service, but provision for practices to cover for absent GPs was seriously lacking.

'Even though we're a big practice it has a big impact,' he said.

'To cover them is very expensive and most of the work is done by the other partners. The patients lose out and GPs can't take holidays and have had to cancel study leave.'

He added that the practice was losing the equivalent of six weeks' locum payments, and if any of the GPs had got involved in drawn-out cases, the practice could have been far worse off.

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