A GP might find he has more people asking Doctor Who? when he tells them his new name.

Dr John Cormack has been protesting for years against severe underfunding at his surgery.

He claims he is not paid a penny and works full time but retired ‘on paper’ to draw his pension, to make it available to his practice.

“To give you an idea of the scale of the problem, whereas most GPs take over well over £100,000 a year, in the last financial year for which we have figures I had to put my hand in my own pocket and donate nearly £5,000 so the staff could be paid and the patients could be cared for,” he said.

Last month he wrote to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, asking him to work for nothing, and hundreds of patients took part in a demonstration in 2011.

Now Dr Cormack, who serves 4,000 patients at the Greenwood Surgery in South Woodham Ferrers, has taken his campaign one step further.

No longer known as Dr John Francis Cormack, he is now Dr John Cormack - the Family Doctor who works for the NHS for free.

The GP paid £15 to change his name by deed poll through a specialist agency.

He said: “I think the change of name will highlight the problems we've faced trying to provide some sort of service for our patients - and will shine a spotlight on the discriminatory policies pursued by the NHS behind closed doors whist it claims to be 'fair' and 'open and transparent'.

“We've spent the last decade doing all the 'normal/sensible' things that people do in these situations - writing to the various 'bits' of the NHS that are supposed to police what goes on, attending meetings.

“The patients have signed a petition which went to the primary care trust, the strategic health authority and was delivered to 10 Downing Street - and have written here, there and everywhere.

“We have achieved precisely nothing thus far - hence the need for steps that some might consider extreme or unusual.”

Dr Cormack is in the process of contacting the General Medical Council about the name change and said he was warned he might not be able to change the name on his passport.

He said: “I've written again to the Secretary of State - using my new name - but have yet to receive confirmation that he and his colleagues are happy to accept the same pay and conditions as me in order to help the NHS in its hour of need.”

The surgery is in the process of appealing against how much funding it receives, following intervention from Maldon MP, John Whittingdale.