The cap on the proportion of income that NHS foundation trusts (FTs) can generate from private sources will rise to 49% from 1 October 2012, it was confirmed today.
The Health & Social Care Act, passed in March, increases the amount FTs can earn from non-NHS work. In addition to income from private patients, this could include money raised from external business ventures like research commercialisation projects.
Today’s announcement confirms the date upon which the new limit becomes active.
The current cap is set at the level of private income as recorded at each FT in 2002-03. Most of the 72 FTs with a private ward currently generate less than 5% of their income from paying patients.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the current cap “prevents foundation trusts from pursuing the kind of innovations that will both benefit patients in the future, and put more of our hospitals on the map internationally as world leaders in their field”.
But he insisted that FTs remained obliged to treat NHS patients, and would treat private work as “supplementary”.