Almost half of hospital authorities to cut bed numbers and a third of A&Es facing closure to cope with funding crisis

Figures suggest mounting pressure on NHS to continue services, after the health service recently recorded its biggest deficit on record

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Almost half of NHS authorities are drafting plans to cut hospital beds and a third are planning on closing Accident and Emergency facilities, it has been reported.

The figures suggest mounting pressure on healthcare resources as the NHS faces unprecedented funding pressure. They have come to light following a poll of clinical commissioning groups and relate to projected or planned cuts for the next 18 months, The Daily Telegraph reports.

One in five say they expect to close consultant-led maternity services. Half intend to close or downgrade community hospitals. Job cuts are expected in a quarter of hospitals, while a similar number expect to close inpatient paediatric departments.

In 2015, the NHS recorded its largest deficit ever, at £2.4bn. In July of this year, a committee of MPs found that Jeremy Hunt has broken funding pledges and claimed he is ‘misleading the public over reforms’. They said thatcontrary to government claims to be injecting an extra £8.4bn into the NHS on top of inflation by 2020/21, the real figure was more likely to be £4.5bn.

The committee has claimed the Government has used a different definition of spending to calculate the figures which made it appear that a larger increase in spending had occurred than was actually the case. They also stated a large amount of money was being used to cover deficits, caused by NHS trusts overspending, rather than representing new injections into front line spending.

A spokesperson for the Department for Health said: “We know the NHS is under pressure, and to ensure the best standards of care in the future we need an updated system which even better prioritises GP access, cancer care and mental health treatment. 

“The NHS is using Sustainability and Transformation Plans to help deliver this change. No decisions have been made and none will occur without local  consultation.”

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