An amendment laid to the Health Bill on Friday will completely remove the private patient income cap for foundation trusts, if MPs pass it.

The amendment was developed by the Foundation Trust Network and comes as Unison prepares to challenge in court foundation trust regulator Monitor’s ‘too permissive’ interpretation of the cap, which limits the proportion of income foundations can gain from private patients.

The amendment was laid the day after the House of Commons rose for its half term recess by Baroness Molly Meacher, a cross bench peer who also chairs East London mental health foundation trust.

Foundation Trust Network director Sue Slipman said the amendment would remove in full the entire section 44 of the 2006 Health Act, which is the subject of Unison’s judicial review.

As an alternative to a cap on private income, the amendment introduces a responsibility for hospitals to “demonstrate the benefit to their NHS patients” of their private income. The amendment would require that NHS trusts and foundations were treated in the same way.

Ms Slipman said: “It is accepting the principle that foundations should not change their nature as NHS organisations.”

‘Dangerous’

The amendment is likely to be debated next Thursday.

Unison’s head of health Karen Jennings said: “This appears like a very desperate act and a dangerous thing to do at a time when we have economic turmoil and a regulator which has taken a very light touch view in regulating foundations.

“We will marshal all of our resources in equipping our members in the House of Lords and MPs to put their views in the debate.”