THE problem of St Clements Surgery is a long-term one and reflects the situation in the whole UK. Solutions will take decades as we have too few doctors.

GPs are self-employed. Those still working at Argyll should be praised and not pilloried. Almost every town and city in the county has GP vacancies, and there are many options and opportunities for GPs. They could choose to work almost anywhere. The fact that Argyll doctors are still here shows that they appreciate our beautiful county and friendly people.

Many GP practices are either closing down, under ‘special measures’, or amalgamating with their neighbours.

Locums are as rare as hen’s teeth and can choose to work where they wish.

GP premises are funded by a rental system agreed with the government. Usually the GPs take out a loan, with payment over many years. This means they need to be a good team, stick together, and be able to recruit replacements as doctors retire, leave or die. They cannot find these replacements.

The result is that Argyll, like many other practices, is spread thin and the GPs are working much harder as patients live longer as well.

In this environment overwork and its results are commonplace. Closure of St Clements is a logical step as there is an alternative practice in Neyland. The doctors will lose their rental, be left with an unused building to sell (at a loss). The Trust will save by not paying rent. There is no profit for anyone.

If we are to solve the recruitment problem we need more than two out of every 11 applicants to medical schools to succeed. We probably need all of them to address the future.

The GPs of Argyll should be commended. They and their patients are victims of successive short-termism by many governments of all political persuasions.