British surgeons have accused the NHS of denying needy patients treatment in order to balance their books.

In an open letter to The Guardian, the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations said primary care trusts are cutting costs by depriving patients of a new hip, a weight loss operation or even cancer treatment.

The FSSA, which represents about 15,000 surgeons in the UK, believes PCTs are forcing patients to endure unnecessary suffering by branding some surgeries of “lower clinical value” - a move motivated by money alone.

In an unprecedented statement, the surgeons said they were “concerned that lists of surgical procedures and interventions, deemed of low clinical effectiveness or of ‘lower value’, are being used by PCTs to limit access to certain procedures. Review of the lists reveals that there is little or no evidence to support the view that many of the procedures are of limited value to individual patients”.

They continued: “For example, the lists include types of hip, spinal, ENT, dental, bariatric and cancer surgery for which there is overwhelming evidence of benefit. The only justification for these lists can be that they are a means of reducing expenditure at a time when the NHS faces a financial crisis.”