Patients are being denied basic operations, including treatments for varicose veins, wisdom teeth and bad backs, as hospitals try frantically to balance the books by the end of the financial year, The Times can reveal.
NHS trusts throughout the country are making sweeping cuts to services and delaying appointments in an attempt to address their debts before the end of March. Family doctors have been told to send fewer patients to hospital, A&E departments have been instructed to turn people away, and a wide range of routine procedures has been suspended.
In one example of the cash-saving strategies, seen by The Times, a primary care trust in Yorkshire has told hospitals that they will not be paid for some non-essential operations, while patients will not be given a hospital appointment in under eight weeks. Similar tactics have emerged at hospitals in Norfolk and Surrey, while dozens of trusts have resorted to closing beds and offering voluntary redundancy in recent months. Devon Primary Care Trust has offered voluntary redundancy to all 5,000 staff.
Operations cancelled as NHS runs out of money