Private hospital senior executives have had their pay capped under the deal with the NHS to block book beds to cope with demand amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

A source told The Guardian newspaper that the arrangement, which has essentially been a lifeline to the independent acute sector, means that no employee of the 26 private providers who signed up can be paid more than the head of a large NHS Trust.

The terms of the deal agreed last month will mean some chief executives will see their salaries slashed by up to 75% as the health service refuses to reimburse pay packets that previously came to as much as £1 million a year.

The government took over 8,000 private hospital beds, 20,000 nurses and 700 doctor for a minimum of 14 weeks when the sector was facing a potentially catastrophic loss of revenue as elective surgery was cancelled and overseas patients denied access to UK treatment.