Health bosses have said the crisis gripping the NHS may signal the end of the health service as we know it.
Chris Hopson, Chief Executive of NHS Providers, the body representing hospitals and ambulance trusts, said it was “just not possible” to carry on unless the NHS received far more money.
Speaking to MPs on the Commons Public Accounts Committee at Westminster, he said: “We have reached the point in the NHS where we can no longer deliver everything that has been asked of the NHS.”
And his warning was echoed by other health bodies.
The Royal College of Surgeons said standards were falling because there’s not enough money. It told the Committee in a written submission: “The service is currently under enormous pressure with ever-growing financial burdens due to underfunding, increasing demand from an ageing population, the rising costs of new treatments and greater public expectations. This is reflected in deteriorating performance standards.”
The British Medical Association , which represents doctors and medical students, told the inquiry: “The NHS is facing a funding crisis which can only be solved through increasing investment based on a realistic assessment of what is needed to meet the health needs of current and future generations.”
The Royal College of Nursing told MPs: “There is a building concern amongst the health and social care professionals about the capacity, and especially the funding, of the health and social care system to deliver against patients and the publics’ expectation about what the system can deliver.”
NHS Clinical Commissioners , a body representing local health authorities called Clinical Commissioning Groups, told the inquiry: “There is a need for open and honest public debate about what can be delivered as a result of the current financial settlement for the NHS, which will require significant efficiency savings to be made. At present there is a lack of realistic political dialogue at local and national level.”
And The Royal College of Psychiatrists told the inquiry: “Our members see on the ground the vital need for additional investment in mental health services in order to improve the lives of people with mental illnesses.”
Mr Hopson told MPs: "The biggest concern is if we carry on on the current trajectory, I think what we begin to bring into question is the entire sustainability of the NHS model."
And he said: "I am not saying it's now. But if we carry on on this current trajectory my nervousness is that public confidence in the NHS really seriously does come into question."
Birmingham hospitals face huge increase in demand for A&E services
Official figures show there has been a dramatic increase in the number of patients hospitals have to cope with.
University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Edgbaston, saw 82,925 patients come to A&E in the 2010-11 financial year. This had risen to 108,463 in 2015-16 - an increase of 30 per cent.
And Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull hospitals, saw 236,036 cases in A&E in 2010-11 - which rose to 261,225 in 2015-16, an increase of ten per cent.
Both trusts - like many other hospital trusts across the country - are failing to meet an official target of dealing with A&E patients within four hours of arrival.
Hospitals are meant to ensure at least 95 per cent of patients are admitted, transferred or discharged within four hours of arrival at A&E,
But University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust dealt with 80 per cent of the most serious patients within four hours in the most recent month for which figures are available, October 2016.
Heart Of England NHS Foundation Trust dealt with 83.8 per cent of the most serious patients within four hours.
Theresa May denies the NHS is in crisis
The Red Cross said last week that it was helping the NHS cope with a “humanitarian crisis in our hospital and ambulance services across the country.”
But Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking in the House of Commons, said: “I think we have all seen humanitarian crises around the world, and to use that description of a National Health Service that last year saw 2.5 million more people treated in accident and emergency than six years ago was irresponsible and overblown.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed Prime Minister Theresa May was “in denial” about what he called a crisis in the NHS.
And the Royal College of Physicians, which represents 33,000 doctors, has written to the Prime Minister warning: “Patients are waiting longer on lists, on trolleys, in emergency departments and in their homes for the care they need.”