1. ITV Report

NHS authorities planning department closures and drastic cuts to services

Some accident and emergency departments are slated to close. Credit: PA

Almost half of NHS authorities are planning to cut hospital beds, while a third are proposing to close or downgrade A&E departments, it has been reported.

A poll by the Health Service Journal of 99 clinical commissioning groups found that 46% had plans to reduce inpatient NHS beds, while more than half were looking at downgrading community hospitals.

Hospital job cuts were expected by one in four, with almost as many saying they intended to close inpatient paediatric departments, and one in five expecting to close consultant-led maternity services.

The Daily Telegraph, reporting the findings, said health officials across the country had been asked to draw up "sustainability and transformation plans" to try and deal with the financial crisis engulfing the NHS.

A Department of Health spokesman 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."