POPPING to the GP for a general check-up will not ward off serious illness or save your life, new research has revealed.

A study which looked at the impact of offering patients routine health MOTs in a number of different countries found little evidence they kept heart attacks at bay or prevented deaths from cancer.

Writing about the findings, Professor Domhnall MacAuley, clinical editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), said offering the population a general health check was "ineffective and probably a waste of resources".

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The Scottish Government launched a range of different check-ups at a cost of £15 million last year, including an online or telephone consultation for everyone turning 40.

A four-year pilot, backed by more than £3.5m, to explore the feasibility of introducing universal face-to-face 'heart MOTs' was part of the package.

The study, which looked at the results of 14 different trials involving more than 180,000 patients, found health checks offered no clear benefit when it came to reducing death rates from cancer and heart disease.

In some cases there were signs the checks did more harm than good.

Professor MacAuley, who published an editorial about the research alongside the results in the BMJ, said: "Health checks sound like a great idea ... but the evidence is not there."