The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) is planning to close hospital wards and prescribe fewer drugs in bid to save money.

NHS Confederation acting chief executive Nigel Edwards told the Telegraph that the NHS is under pressure to achieve financial savings, meet rising demand, and respond to the challenges of current health reforms.

The first in a new series of quarterly NHS monitoring reports, published by the King’s Fund, also highlights that waiting times of patients has almost doubled in the recent months.

The fund says statistics for February show 15% of patients waited over 18 weeks for treatment, the longest time since April 2008.

The think-tank enquired with 26 finance directors from hospitals, mental health bodies and primary care trusts from across England how their productivity plans were running.

The directors indicated difficulty in managing increased demand for care with reduced capacity and the need to meet targets and maintain quality within a reduced budget.