Patients are being denied hip and knee surgery or forced to wait longer, a report has revealed, which could increase their dependence on assisted living.
The BBC collected information from 692 surgeons about their primary care trusts' policies and found that patients now must be in greater pain or exhibit more disability in order to qualify for treatment.
It is believed that these new restrictions are part of an NHS drive to try save £20 billion by 2015.
Peter Kay, the president of the British Orthopaedic Association (BOA), told the news source that some hip and knee patients are being forced to wait longer for surgery they need, which could have a detrimental effect on the outcome of their surgery.
"GPs were told not to send as many patients to hospital, maybe to delay referrals until the end of the financial year while perhaps introducing thresholds for surgery," he stated.
This comes after research published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found that depression worsens the symptoms of knee arthritis in older people, potentially making these patients more likely to find a care home.