"[the new health bill will] abolish the arbitrary cap on the amount of income foundation trusts may earn from other sources" (4.22)
When an NHS trust becomes a Foundation Trust it is told how much private work it can perform. This is effectively the level of private work that it was doing as a NHS Trust and the cap basically says that the trust can do no more. For example, my local FT has the cap set to 1.3% of its income. This money mostly comes from things like pathology where the hospital are paid by GPs to do tests on a private basis. The hospital - to my knowledge - does not have private patients.
Lansley wants to privatise the entire NHS and throttle the money coming from the taxpayer, and as part of this plan he has to persuade private patients to use NHS hospitals. I find this disgusting for several reasons but mostly because I do not want a two tier system where a patient will jump the queue by paying.
The Health Service Journal report today that the private sector are not happy about this because clearly a private patient in an NHS hospital is one fewer patient in a private hospital. HSJ say that private hospitals may complain to the EU under European state aid law rules.
Lansley has tried very hard over the last couple of years to persuade the private sector that his plans will be good for them. For example, the White Paper even says that they will be allowed to use NHS facilities. So I wonder why the private sector are threatening an EU ruling? Perhaps it may be because they think that the UK public do not have the capacity to pay for more private healthcare and there is no scope for the market to expand? The private sector are only interested in performing NHS work - replacing NHS hospitals - and they are suddenly realising that politically Lansley cannot simply hand them the keys to NHS hospitals (much as he would like to) and they realise that the "sink or swim" attitude that lansley is applying to the NHS is being applied to them too.