The majority of doctors taking part in a survey for ITV News have admitted to rationing care on the NHS because of financial constraints.

In the survey of 1,000 doctors, undertaken by healthcare data and intelligence provider Wilmington Healthcare, more than two-thirds said they had been forced to ration care as a direct result of the cash crisis. Moreover, 90 percent said further rationing is inevitable.

Services and treatments spanning all aspects of care - from child mental health, hip and knee replacements, and cancer drugs are being restricted to save money, while patients in need of varicose vein removal and cataract surgery are either being denied or made to wait, the news channel said.

According to its research, some patients ended up in accident and emergency departments because they had been refused treatment through normal channels.

However, more than three-quarters of responders believe the NHS should be rationing treatments, citing arguments such as 'it is necessary for the NHS to survive financially' and that 'not all treatments should be available on the NHS'.

In other key findings, 23 percent of doctors said they had witnessed for medicines rationing including, cancer drugs, and painkillers and, while 71 percent said the constraints are raising anxiety among patients needing treatment.

"Our research suggests that rationing is already widespread within the NHS for a variety of services and treatments, and with budgets under increasing strain, it is likely that more patients will be subject to restrictions in future," commented Gareth Thomas, Wilmington's managing director.

"Being denied treatment can lead to increased anxiety for the patient and put them at greater risk of being admitted to hospital as an emergency if their condition worsens. Inevitably, it means that many patients will end up paying for private treatment if they can afford it."

In an emailed statement, Dr Mark Porter, council chair of the British Medical Association, said: "The rationing of vital health care not only causes delay and distress to patients, but can ends up costing the NHS more money in the long run. This is especially true in the area of public health spending.

"Inevitably, it will be patients who suffer as the NHS, its doctors, nurses and other staff, are forced to choose between which patients to treat and the type of treatment they receive. The government must realise that the answer lies not in rationing essential services but in addressing the funding shortfall and investing in the future of the NHS."