• NHS providers’ earnings from private patients increased slightly last year
  • Up from £599.1m in 2016-17 to £626m in 2017-18
  • Large growth at London specialists masks small decline across rest of England
  • Lists top 10 trusts by private income

Growth in private income at a small number of London trusts offset a decline across the rest of England last year, HSJ analysis has found.

Annual accounts data has revealed the amount NHS trusts and foundation trusts earned from private patients rose 4.6 per cent year-on-year in cash terms, from £595.9m to £624.8m.

But large increases at a handful of London providers offset a small decline in the amount earned through private work across the rest of the country.

There was a rise of £22.9m across the Royal Marsden FT, King’s College Hospital FT and Imperial College Healthcare Trust.

London specialists dominated the market overall, with the top 10 earning trusts contributing £381.1m to the 2017-18 total.

The Royal Marsden was the biggest single contributor, with £104.3m income. The London cancer specialist was also the highest earner from private work in 2016-17 but grew its income by £12.5m year-on-year.

Two other London trusts increased their private income significantly over 2017-18. King’s College Hospital FT increased its income 39 per cent to £20.4m.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which was the third biggest overall earner in 2017-18, increased private income by nearly 10 per cent to more than £50m.

The accounts do not disclose the profit trusts made on the work, just the income.

Outside the capital, private income for the 10 biggest NHS suppliers of private care fell year-on-year, from £70.2m in 2016-17 to £67.2m in 2017-18.

Frimley Health FT in Surrey was the biggest single NHS private provider outside London in both years. Its 2017-18 takings were £9.2m, down from £9.8m in 2016-17.

Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals FT had one of the steepest increases in England year-on-year, turning a private income of £500,000 in 2016-17 into nearly £3m in 2017-18.

The private healthcare hospital companies in the UK have a combined turnover of approximately £5bn, with the volume of self-payers growing while those covered by health insurance decline.

However, NHS-funded work makes up a significant proportion of the workload for many of the large private hospital groups, which have in recent years reported restrictions on NHS referrals hurting their business.

HSJ approached the trusts affected but they did not want to comment.

Ten trusts with the largest private income in 2017-18

Organisation namePrivate patient income 2017-18 (£000s)2016-17 (£000s)

The Royal Marsden FT



Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children FT



Imperial College Healthcare Trust



Royal Brompton and Harefield FT



Moorfields Eye Hospital FT



Royal Free London FT



University College London Hospitals FT



Guy’s & St Thomas’ FT



King’s College Hospital FT



Chelsea and Westminster FT