Doctors are calling for NHS treatment to be withheld from patients who are too old or who lead unhealthy lives.
Smokers, heavy drinkers, the obese and the elderly should be barred from receiving some operations, according to doctors, with most saying the health service cannot afford to provide free care to everyone.
Fertility treatment and "social" abortions are also on the list of procedures that many doctors say should not be funded by the state.
The findings of a survey conducted by Doctor magazine sparked a fierce row last night, with the British Medical Association and campaign groups describing the recommendations from family and hospital doctors as "outrageous" and "disgraceful".
About one in 10 hospitals already deny some surgery to obese patients and smokers, with restrictions most common in hospitals battling debt.