The NHS in north-west London has denied suggestions it will “ration” services as part of an attempt to save money.

It comes as clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the region face “significant deficit” with overspending forecast at around £112 million.

The collaboration of CCGs in north-west London wrote to GPs earlier this week outlining its plan for “financial recovery”.

It includes measures to avoid “unnecessary waste” by offering fewer outpatient appointments and reducing costs associated with over the counter medicine prescriptions.

The strategy could also include reducing the cost of patient transport, home oxygen and feeding tubes.

Politicians in the region have criticised these “cuts” and likened the approach to “rationing”.

But Mark Easton, accountable officer for the north-west London collaboration of CCGs, insists this is not the case.

He said: “We have written to local GPs to highlight the fact that so far this year, we have been spending beyond our allocated budget.

“We are attempting to contain this overspending, not by rationing referrals but by ensuring that all referrals are appropriate and within clinical guidelines.”

He explained that the current situation could put health services under “intolerable pressure” and pointed out that many patients end up in hospital “when they don’t need to be there” or receive outpatient services they do not need.

In its initial letter to GPs, the group emphasised that “the safety of our patients and the quality of our services will always come first”.

It added that it will work with patients, residents, staff, local authorities and the voluntary sector to shape the future of health services for the next five years.