Health secretary Andy Burnham has backed a review of the limit on foundation trusts’ income from private patients.

Mr Burnham, answering questions following his first speech in post, said: “I think the time has come to look at it [the private patient income cap] again.

“The time has come to see whether it is correct, it is not [also] holding back the development of NHS services in some cases.”

The cap, limiting foundations’ private income as a proportion of their total income, was imposed when they were created in response to those who believed their freedom would undermine their public services.

Mr Burnham, speaking at the NHS Confederation conference, said: “We can still capture the spirit of what Parliament wanted, which was NHS patients prioritised.”

Lords passed an amendment to the health bill which would allow the health secretary to make exceptions to the cap. Mr Burnham did not commit to allowing the amendment to stand as the bill passes through the commons, however.

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