Forty-three per cent of hospitals admit postponing operations, and some have imposed minimum waits of more than 20 weeks, a survey for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme found.
Meanwhile, 73 per cent of PCTs are restricting access to services, and half are limiting operations, according to a survey by the Health Service Journal.
Most PCT chief executives admitted that patient care would suffer as they fought to balance the books.
The DoH has predicted an overall surplus of £13 million by the end of March, when the financial year ends, despite trusts predicting a combined deficit of £1.3 billion.
Cost-cutting schemes are not limited to hospital services, according to reports. Norfolk PCT is reported to have proposed halving the rate it pays practices for blood testing.
Under an existing enhanced service for phlebotomy, practices in some parts of the PCT are paid £1.12 per test, but the PCT is understood to want this cut to 47p.
Leeds PCT, meanwhile, is reported to have banned GPs from referring patients to private hospitals for NHS treatment because it is too expensive.