ITV News report by Duncan Golestani
Patients face being removed from GP surgery lists if they do not contact their doctor for more than five years, under new NHS cost-cutting plans confirmed to ITV News.
NHS England said the scheme would ensure it does not waste critical funds by paying GPs about £100 a year for looking after "ghost patients".
A patient who has been out of touch with their GP for five years will receive two letters, and if they do not respond, they will be taken off their GP's list.
Pulse, a website for GPs, discovered that NHS England plans to introduce the deregistration scheme in all 8,000 surgeries across England after a trial.
The plans were criticised by some GPs, who said key groups such as children and men aged between 20 and 45, who tend to be less likely to respond to prompts, could lose access to GP care as a result of the scheme.
GP Dr Bob Gill told ITV News that the move was "unwelcome and unwise", and would harm patient care.
Dr Robert Morley, chair of the contracts and regulations subcommittee of the British Medical Association’s GPs committee, added: “Patients have a right to be registered unless they move or register elsewhere, even if they don’t need to or choose not to access services.
"NHS England should abandon this exercise, which will have the inevitable consequences of disruption for patients and a reduction of core funding disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable practices.”