asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the revenue flowing to the National Health Service from the use of pay beds by overseas patients in the latest period for which figures are available; whether it is now his intention that such foreign patients should be admitted on the same conditions as will apply to United Kingdom patients; and what estimate he has made of the reduction in revenue which this will involve.
The proportion of pay-bed income derived from overseas patients is not recorded separately. While pay beds remain in National Health Service hospitals they will continue to be available for use by paying patients, whether resident in the United Kingdom or not, on the same basis as present. When pay beds are phased out admission to NHS hospitals of private patients, whether resident overseas or in the United Kingdom, will be possible under the limited provisions of Section 8 of the Health Services Act 1976 for which the detailed arrangements are currently under discussion. One of the conditions which will apply to these arrangements is that paying patients should be admitted on the basis of medical priority alone. Since I have not yet determined the charges which will be made for these services I cannot make any estimate of the likely revenue which will accrue.