Patients who seek private health care will still be entitled to treatment on the NHS afterwards, the government has confirmed.
The clarification follows a number of cases in which patients who had paid for private treatment, such as infertility treatment, were subsequently told they were no longer eligible for NHS care, Nursing in Practice reports.
Baroness Thatcher confirmed: "When a patient who has previously been receiving private healthcare seeks help from the NHS they should be treated in the same way as any other NHS patient and offered treatment based on their clinical need.
"Their previous status as a privately funded patient should, as far as practical, neither disadvantage them or allow them to access NHS care in a preferential way."
The confirmation has been welcomed by Lord Robert Winston, who had sought clarification after learning of a number of cases in which patients were denied access to the NHS because of previously having obtained private health care.
He said: "I know of a number of cases where unfortunately individual NHS clinics have turned patients down on the grounds that they have had private IVF care before."
Independent advice on private healthcare