The remote Highland village of Kinloch Rannoch has long fostered an independent spirit.

Robert the Bruce made a stand against the English here in 1306 and it was a stronghold of the Jacobite Rebellion 439 years later.

Today, Kinloch Rannoch’s 589 residents are staging a new uprising in deepest Perthshire. They are taking on NHS chiefs who insist it is too expensive to provide a round-the-clock GP in such a far-flung area.

The battle could have wide-ranging implications for rural communities across the UK who fear falling victim to the pressure on health budgets.

Kinloch Rannoch’s residents, who claim the lack of emergency cover will cost lives, have advertised in a GP magazine for their own doctor willing to provide an out-of-hours service.

Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, a resident and former adviser to the Thatcher government, said the post was a dream job: “Moving here was the best thing we ever did. This is the most beautiful corner of God’s earth and largely untouched by the hand of man. If you are young and like the outdoor life, it is a wonderful place to come.”

Residents believe that they can recruit a GP sufficiently cheaply to force NHS managers 70 miles away in Dundee to reconsider. When the village doctor retired last year, Tayside health board ruled it could not force his replacement to provide out-of-hours cover because of the new contract for GPs.

It also claimed that it would be uneconomical to offer an emergency service as it would cost £557,000 a year. Consequently, families could bemore than more than two hours away from the nearest on-call doctors.

The NHS proposed training volunteers to deal with emergencies until an ambulance or paramedic arrived – a suggestion that has infuriated residents.

The campaigners believe the pressure will force NHS Tayside to give way but are also threatening court action to ensure they have a doctor on call.