Leak shows ‘devastating’ impact of planned NHS cuts in London

Patients will be denied treatment, waiting times for operations will lengthen and A&E and maternity units may be shut under secret NHS plans to impose unprecedented cuts to health spending in London.

According to an internal NHS document seen by the Guardian, doctors in five London boroughs will have to spend less on drugs, fewer patients will be referred to hospital and support for people with severe health needs will be cut as part of the plan.

It outlines the “difficult choices” NHS bosses nationally are forcing the 10 hospital trusts in north-central London to make in the next few months in order to plug a £183.1m gap in their finances.

It admits that pushing through such cutbacks will be unpopular and hard to explain – and result in poorer care. “We recognise that these choices may be difficult for a number of reasons [because they include] … options that impact on quality of care [and] options that would be difficult to implement,” it says.

The hospitals that have been told to implement draconian cost-cutting measures include some of the NHS’s best-known names, such as the Royal Free, University College London and Great Ormond Street children’s hospital.

North Central London (NCL) is one of 14 areas of England where NHS England and NHS Improvement, the service’s twin regulators, are forcing hospital trusts to make far-reaching cuts during 2017-18 as part of the “capped expenditure process”. They have told local NHS leaders to “think the unthinkable” in their quest for savings.

Full story in The Guardian, 20 June 2017