GP numbers are falling faster than nine pins under a wrecking ball.

In some parts of the country it takes seven weeks to get an appointment, and often that is only to talk to a GP by phone thereby eradicating what is possibly the most obvious diagnostic tool of all – the visual.

Two thirds are now taking early retirement. Strain and stress play their part, but there is also the ‘looking glass’ world of NHS payments and pensions making it unaffordable for GPs to work.

The Government has promised to recruit 5,000 more GPs by 2020 but the problem is not necessarily of recruitment, it is of retention. It is not only the middle-aged GPs who are leaving but also young recently-qualified doctors trained with huge chunks of British taxpayers’ money.

Can you blame them? They can earn three times as much overseas and still have time to have a life. A taste of our own medicine perhaps in that doctors from less well-off countries are heavily recruited in Britain after being trained in their own countries.

However, we have now passed crisis point and it is only reasonable for anyone trained in this country to keep their side of the bargain and stick around for a minimum of five years as pay-back.

The deal must also insist that there can be no cherry picking.

You go where you are sent and maximise the experience or pay back the funding.

Brian McCusker,

Hartoft Street, York