NHS hospitals in England will be free to use almost half their hospital beds and theatre time for private patients under new plans
According to the BBC, a recent revision to the ongoing health bill will allow foundation hospitals to raise 49% of funds through non-NHS work if an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill gets through Parliament.
Currently most foundation trusts are limited to just 2% private income. The Health Secretary says the move will benefit NHS patients but Labour claimed it could lead to longer waiting lists.
Commenting on the move, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said lifting the private income cap for foundation hospitals would directly benefit NHS patients.
But a cap on the amount of income hospitals can raise from private patients was put in place by Labour in 2003, amid political controversy over the setting up of foundation hospitals, which have more freedom to decide how their services are run. All NHS hospitals are set to become foundation hospitals by 2014.
The chief executive of the health thinktank, the King's Fund, Chris Ham said hospitals had generated funds from private patients for many years, and it was possible to provide high quality care to both NHS and private patients in the same hospital.
Read more about this NHS private treatment story on the BBC website.
NHS private treatment news : 28 December 2011