Scheming NHS managers are making patients wait longer than necessary for operations to save cash, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Telegraph hacks contacted more than 100 primary care trusts to ask if they had lengthened waiting times.

“At least 10 have told hospitals to increase the length of time before they see patients in order to save money,” said the paper.

The Telegraph also revealed NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson claimed more than £50,000 a year in expenses to live in a London flat “at the same time as ordering the health service to make unprecedented savings”.

It is in “one of Westminster’s most exclusive apartment blocks”, which has “its own swimming pool, croquet lawn and bar”, it said.

The Department of Health told the Telegraph the rented flat represented better value than billeting Sir David in hotels when he was required to leave his main office in Leeds to work in London.

Other papers, including the Daily Mail, claimed NHS reform plans were once again threatening to divide the coalition government ahead of the amended Health Bill’s return to the Commons this week.

This was fuelled in part by a series of email exchanges revealed in the Observer suggesting the DH had “discussed hiving off the management of up to 20 trusts to overseas firms”.

Meanwhile, The Times reported on TV chef James Martin’s efforts to revamp hospital food – to him “food is a medicine too”, apparently. But it seems he went one step too far when he tried to remove custard from the menu at Scarborough General Hospital.

Catering manager Pat Bell was incredulous: “When you’re ill, you really want a bowl of custard,” she explained. “You can’t serve syrup sponge without custard. We’d be lynched.”