There are fears that that thousands of Exmouth’s residents could be dropped by their doctor and ‘deregistered’ if they don’t reply to a government letter ‘within weeks’.

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But government health chiefs insist that they are not asking thousands of Exmouth’s residents to reregister with their doctor - they just want to confirm their details.

Last week residents contacted the Journal after they had been sent a text by several GPs’ surgeries.

The text warned patients that they should soon expect to receive a letter from NHS England regarding registration with their doctor.

And the letter said that if residents didn’t reply within four weeks they could be taken off the practice list.

One 87-year-old man from Douglas Avenue who contacted the Journal, but did not want to be named, said: “What happens if I am not around to respond to this letter?

“My wife and I are planning to go on a four week cruise to the Caribbean next week. Will we be taken off the list?”

An NHS spokeswoman said that they were carrying out ‘routine work’ in the region to ensure that details on GP lists were up to date.

She said: “From March 2014, some patients will receive letters asking them to confirm their GP registration details, so that we have an accurate patient list. We are not asking patients to reregister.

“This information is not shared with anyone, it is entirely confidential. Responses are only used to ensure patient contact lists are accurate.

“If patients do not respond within four weeks from the date the letter was sent, a second letter will be sent. If there is no response to either letter then practices will attempt to contact patients to confirm their details. People can respond to the letter by email, text message, telephone or by post. They can also drop into their local surgery.

“If deregistered, those affected will no longer receive important information about their health, screening and will no longer be registered with a GP. We don’t want this to happen, which is why we encourage people to inform their GP practice when they move house or change their name.”

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