Parts of the NHS in England are considering "savage" cuts in a bid to meet financial targets, a new report suggests.
The Health Service Journal (HSJ) has summarised a series of measures which are being discussed by officials from NHS England and NHS Improvement and health managers in 14 areas of the country with the highest overspends.
Some of the proposals under discussion in a number of the areas include: closing or downgrading wards and services, extending waiting times, restricting NHS funding for some treatments and limiting the number of operations carried out by non-NHS providers, the HSJ reported.
The proposals are being discussed under the capped expenditure process - which was introduced this year to cap NHS spending in some areas so they meet so-called "control total" budgets in 2017/18.
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said that the NHS "cannot survive" another five years under a Conservative government.
Norman Lamb, former health minister and Liberal Democrat shadow health secretary, described the proposals as "savage cuts".
The HSJ reported that NHS leaders from areas involved have been told "think the unthinkable".
One chief executive told the HSJ that some of the options, if pursued, would "challenge the value base" of NHS leaders.
But NHS England stressed that no decisions have been made and that the options under discussion would require national sign-off.
The HSJ said that meetings to discuss the capped expenditure process took place throughout last month.
The 14 areas of the country are: Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset; Cambridgeshire and Peterborough;
- Cheshire (Eastern, Vale Royal and South)
- Morecambe Bay
An NHS England spokesman said:
Mr Ashworth said:
Mr Lamb said: