NHS faces more cuts to avoid £10bn deficit

The NHS may have to cut cancer research funding and social care to plug a £10bn hole in its budget because the success of efficiency savings are in doubt, according to a leaked report.

In a letter from the Independent Challenge Group, the body set up by the Government to scrutinise its spending review process, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, was told that the vast bulk of planned annual savings in the health budget of £16bn "may not be achievable".

Saying that the NHS could face a "significant budget shortfall", it continued: "The NHS typically deals with such shortfalls by limiting treatments, leading to increased waiting times."

The document, which was leaked to The Guardian, argued that further savings would need to be found to avoid an "unpalatable trade-off", which could include cutting £200m given to leading medical charities such as Cancer Research UK. It also suggested abandoning the policy of recruiting every new graduate doctor.