A scheme to invite all adults over the age of 40 to complete a health check online or over the telephone has been branded a waste of money by GPs.

Doctors at the Scottish Local Medical Committees’ annual conference agreed unanimously that the Scottish government’s Life Begins at 40 campaign was a waste of money, did nothing to address inequalities, and used money that was needed elsewhere in the health service.

The online and telephone based service was launched by the Scottish government last month and will be run by the Scottish health helpline NHS 24.

Users who complete a questionnaire online or over the telephone will be given health information tailored to their needs and signposted to other sources of information on local and national services.

However, the Scottish LMCs’ conference said that the service had been taken up by only 10% of eligible adults in pilot projects. It said this proved the Scottish public does not value the service.

Dr Steve Haigh, a GP from Lothian, said prevention was important but randomly targeting the over-40s was not the answer.

He argued that the service offered by the campaign was already available online and in every GP surgery and pharmacy across the country.

He added: “In the present financial climate the Life Begins at 40 campaign in Scotland is not a good use of public money.”

Dean Marshall, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish General Practitioner Committee, said the Life Begins at 40 campaign failed to help patients with the greatest need.

He added: “This is an approach that GPs neither support nor welcome. It needs to be addressed before this project wastes more money that would be better spent elsewhere.”