• Video report by ITV News Correspondent Angus Walker

Plans to cut beds, close wards and merge hospitals have been revealed as part of a Government bid to cut £22bn from NHS spending.

Leaked proposals show how wide-ranging savings are being considered to tackle the NHS' looming financial crisis.

The health service has been told it must make its £22bn in efficiency savings by 2020.

Plans suggest that in north-west London a £1bn shortfall would mean cutting 500 beds.

In Leeds, this would result in five wards being at risk of closure, while the number of acute hospitals in Leicester would be reduced from three to two.

Earlier this week, ITV News disclosed that 16 trusts in England were forced to close or suspend essential services because of staffing problems during the last year.

Dr Richard Vautrey from the British Medical Association warned: "There's a real risk that pressures that the NHS face will get greater, that services could cut, and that patients will find it harder to get an appointment with their GP or at the hospital".

Labour and opponents of the Government's NHS policy argue that any funding crisis is caused by political choice.