NHS chiefs 'tried to keep cuts plan secret'
The heads of NHS England deliberately kept plans to cut hospital services secret from the public, an investigation has found.
Bosses told local hospital managers to keep their plans "out of the public domain" and offered advice on how to reject Freedom of Information requests.
The claims concern a series of reviews of local services across England, some of which involve shutting A&E departments and in one instance closing a whole hospital.
Medical think tank the King's Fund interviewed staff involved in four of the local reviews, which are known as 'Sustainability and Transformation Plans'.
The researchers were told that NHS bosses wanted the plans to be "private and confidential" to avoid public controversy over loss of services.
While the Fund said it was sensible to look at consolidating local services in some areas, the way the reviews had been handled was counter to established good practice.
The medical director of NHS England, Sir Bruce Keogh, said: "I am sure there are things that could be learnt about the process. But when you are trying to improve care across a whole system, things are never going to be straightforward."