LABOUR MPs have written to health secretary Matt Hancock accusing commissioners of 'rationing treatments' in the area and restricting patient access.

Warrington North MP Helen Jones, Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid, Weaver Vale MP Mike Amesbury and Halton MP Derek Twigg have signed the joint letter following last week's backlash against a circulating NHS price list for Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mrs Jones slammed the trust and accused it of 'creeping privatisation' in Parliament last Thursday.

However, the trust denied that it charges NHS patients

for NHS-funded procedures and confirmed that it continues to meet all of its diagnostic, cancer and referral to treatment standards.

But hospital bosses announced later in the day that they were pausing the My Choice service.

The joint letter reads: "It appears clinical commissioning groups in our area are restricting access to some operations such as hip and knee replacements and cataract removals until a patient’s condition worsens.

"This results in patients being left in pain and facing serious restrictions on their lives.

"Patients are offered the choice to pay for their operations which, for most of them is no choice at all since they cannot afford the sums required.

"Restrictions on access to cataract surgery began under the coalition government in 2010 and we are very concerned that the list of restrictions is growing, and it is becoming harder for our constituents to receive the NHS treatment that they need.

"The restrictions are because government NHS funding to our area is simply not enough, resulting in what appears to be rationing of treatment by the CCGs.

"We are concerned that this is harmful to our constituents and in turn is putting the financial viability of our NHS hospitals at risk."

In the letter, the MPs also stated that the practice had the side effect of massaging waiting time figures.

Their correspondence with the health secretary added: "This policy makes NHS waiting times appear shorter than they actually are, since many patients cannot get on the list.

"It also, we believe, results in significant long-term costs for the NHS, since patients waiting to be referred for operations are likely to visit their GP more often and require more pain relief.

"In addition, their operations, when they do receive them, may well be more complicated and they may require more aftercare.

"By contrast, treating conditions early saves money in the long-term and enables patients to work and carry on with their lives.

"We therefore urge you to end this mistaken policy and to ensure that sufficient NHS funding is available in our area to ensure patients get the operations they need."