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GPs will have to carry out annual ‘health MOTs' on patients identified as being at risk of ill-health, under plans revealed by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt.

Teams of NHS staff would go on door-to-door missions in deprived areas to get the patients to visit their GP.

GPs would then persuade the patients to sign up to ‘contracts' committing them to a series of lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking or losing weight, and offer a check-up each year.

The scheme is based on pilots being run by two PCTs, in which at-risk patients are identified using ‘health mapping' techniques.

‘Instead of waiting for them to come to the doctor, the NHS has started going out to them,' Ms Hewitt told The Observer.

But GPs condemned the scheme as ‘worse than nanny-statism' and said they did not have the resources to cope with the extra workload.

Dr Andrew Dearden, GPC negotiator, said: ‘Where on earth am I going to get the time from? Where are they going to get the GPs and nurses from?

‘We're talking about health- seeking behaviour and that's multifactorial – not just postcode but knowledge, employment, whether they've got kids. Me knocking on their door is not going to change that.'

Dr Robert Morley, joint executive secretary of Birmingham LMC, said: ‘It's worse than nanny-statism – it's medicalising and politicising lifestyle choices to an unprecedented degree.'

The Scottish Executive said it would also be considering the proposals.

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