AN island community that has been without a permanent GP for nearly two years has finally ended its recruitment crisis after the current locum doctor was appointed to take over the surgery.

Dr Adnan Malik will head the GP practice in Garrison House, Millport, on Cumbrae, and plans to appoint a second GP "as soon as possible". Out-of-hours care will be provided by a team of six advanced nurse practitioners, who can also prescribe drugs.

His appointment ends a string of failed recruitment campaigns by NHS Ayrshire and Arran that began when the previous GPs quit in the wake of a row over the opening of a pharmacy in Millport.

Dr Malik, a 42-year-old father- of-two, was born in Pakistan and moved to the UK in 2005 and completed his GP training in Lanarkshire.

He has been the locum doctor on Cumbrae since April 5 last year, when he was hired on an initial three-month contract, replacing outgoing husband and wife team Dr Jim and Elizabeth Bryson, who had run the practice for 27 years.

Dr Malik previously worked as a locum in the Scottish Prison Service for two years, serving as the chief GP for HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow.

He then went on to work as a police surgeon - also known as a forensic medical examiner - on Orkney, where he was in charge of examining and recording the injuries suffered by victims of crime and looking after the health of suspects in custody.

Dr Malik said he was attracted to Cumbrae because of its the remote location and that he had received a "warm welcome" from the community.

He said: "It is a beautiful place. I like rural places; I am not a city person really. So it was just by luck you could say. I came in as a locum only for three months and I quite enjoyed my stay, but after three months the health board wanted to extend it and I was more than happy to do that.

"I have really enjoyed my time here. I have been given a lot of love and respect by the people - they have always supported me throughout my stay here. It is a good feeling to be appreciated and accepted by the community."

Dr Malik lives on Cumbrae during the week and commutes at weekends back to the family home in Livingston, West Lothian, which he shares with his wife, 14-year-old son and daughter, six.

He said he hoped to move to the island full-time eventually, but he did not want to disrupt his son's education.

Dr Malik's appointment ends a long-running recruitment saga that saw four separate attempts to fail due to a shortage of applicants or because candidates were rejected at interview.

The crisis began when the Brysons took early retirement after the arrival of a community pharmacy in Millport forced them to close their lucrative in-house drug dispensary. The service had helped fund a third GP and other running costs at the practice and its loss was seen as a major stumbling block to hiring a new, permanent GP for the island.

Dr Ken Ferguson, associate medical director for the health board, said: "We are delighted Dr Malik has chosen to remain on Cumbrae on a permanent basis.

"He has proved extremely popular with local people and we believe that together with our Advanced Practitioners and other staff, he will provide a first class clinical service to the people of Cumbrae."