Up to 35,000 patients have been removed from general practice registers as part of an NHS cost-cutting scheme, Pulse has revealed.
An investigation found that attempts to update records and reduce practice funding have led to people increasingly being denied vital check ups.
Figures show that up to a third of patients who were removed from practice lists should not have been deleted, in some parts of the country.
The failings mean that some women have gone years without having a cervical cancer screening, doctors told Pulse.
And up to 14% of patients who were removed from the practice list were reinstated after making a formal complaint.
Across 10 of NHS England’s area teams 83,420 patients have been removed so far.
Of those,11,894 of these had to re-register with their GP as they were genuine patients. When the figures are extrapolated across the country, they suggest 35,000 patients removed in error since April last year.
The figures form part of an NHS England programme to validate practice lists in order to sift out “ghost patients” who are registered with the practice but have died or moved out of the area. The elderly are targeted in the scheme.
NHS England hopes the scheme will save £85 million for the health service by ensuring that practices are only given funding for their current patients.
Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham, told The Telegraph that “loads and loads” of her patients have been wrongly removed.
She said: “Patients were very distressed at being removed. Sometimes there are angry scenes at reception, which is a distressing situation for everyone.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “NHS England takes all possible steps it can to contact patients and minimise the number who need to re-register – but there will always be some circumstances where patients do not respond and at that point we have to assume that they have moved away from that address and are therefore not in reality receiving services from that GP.”