Doctors have condemned cuts and rationed NHS services at the British Medical Association's annual conference today.
Attendees were concerned that the amount the NHS has been tasked to save under the 'Nicholson challenge' - £15bn to £20bn between 2011 and 2014 - would mean job cuts and rationed clinical services.
They called on the Department of Health (DoH) to demonstrate how the efficiency savings were being reinvested into the system.
A Bristol-based consultant psychiatrist Robin Arnold said: "Efficiency savings which are not reinvested are cuts. Cutting between 16 and 20% of the budget cannot be achieved without cutting frontline services, and getting GPs to be the fall guys for this is unacceptable."
London-based GP Louise Irvine told the meeting: "We do not have to accept the austerity argument. By cutting jobs and services we suppress, we depress the economy further."
And London consultant urologist Tomas Rosenbaum said cuts were taking place at "breath-taking speed" in west London where Ealing Hospital was facing reconfiguration.
This year's Association of Medical Insurance Intermediaries (Amii) summit on 3 July will be looking at the role of private healthcare insurance as NHS reforms continue.
According to Amii's leader, Wayne Pontin, the UK simply "cannot afford to deliver free healthcare" and the private and public sectors now "cannot be separated".
Ruth Gilbert reports
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