The number of private patients that hospitals can treat will spiral and push those on the NHS to the bottom of waiting lists under the government’s health reforms, a public sector union has claimed.

Unison will stage a demonstration outside the headquarters of the Department of Health in London to highlight its claim that private patients will “leapfrog” to the front of the queue when the Health and Social Care Bill becomes law.

Unison’s head of health Christina McAnea said: “The public do not want a health service where people can buy their way to the top of the NHS queue.

“The end of the limit on the number of private patients hospitals can treat, will lead to less profitable NHS patients being pushed to the back of the ever-growing waiting lists.”

The government maintains that the bill, which will resume its passage through Parliament after the summer recess, is a crucial part of its vision to modernise the NHS so that it is “built around patients, led by health professionals and focused on delivering world-class healthcare outcomes”.