It has been announced that patients who do not visit their GP five years could be barred from their doctor’s surgery.
They will be sent two letters asking them to respond. If they don’t, they will be removed from the practice list.
This is a drive by an NHS regional team in the east of England, known as ‘list cleansing’, is intended to cut NHS costs.
But critics complain the move will ‘punish’ healthy patients and could disproportionately affect some groups, particularly early adolescents and men aged 20 to 45.
Dr Richard Vautrey, at the British Medical Association, said: “Schemes like this undermine the GP and patient relationship. Patients shouldn’t be punished for being too healthy and for being careful about how they use service”.
GPs are paid for each person on their list – in 2013/14, the average clinic received £136 per patient.
In 2012, the Audit Commission found more than 95,000 patients who had moved, died or left the country who needed to be taken off lists in England and Wales.