A plan to set up a separate company to run many of Bradford’s hospital services has been branded “creeping privatisation” by MPs and a workers’ union.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, is looking at setting up a “wholly owned subsidiary” – a company separate from the hospital that will be responsible for services such as catering, cleaning, security, and other non-medical roles.

Hundreds of existing hospital staff would be transferred to the new subsidiary company, but would no longer be classed as NHS staff.

A similar arrangement is being established at Airedale General Hospital, in Steeton. The trust said the new setup will lead to major savings.

However, Keighley MP John Grogan said many of the savings will be due to the arrangements leading to hospitals paying reduced VAT rates.

Unison, the union representing many of the affected workers, has raised concerns about the plans, which are in the early stages. On Monday, representatives will meet to gauge if members would support possible industrial action.

The Trust said patient needs were at the forefront of its decision-making, and that it would work with unions during the consultation process.

Michael Parkinson, area organiser for Unison, said: “The trust board are meeting on the 11th to discuss whether to go ahead with this plan. We understand they are going to make a provisional decision that day and then make a final decision in March.

“Based on our experience this is back door privatisation.”

He also said the change would create a “two tier” work force, with some staff having their NHS terms and conditions protected, and others facing new contracts. He added: “We feel this is detrimental to the whole of the NHS. It creates a real division, especially when you have an old workforce that is more expensive than newer staff.

“And when you have new jobs that don’t have the benefits, like pensions, of an NHS job you are going to attract a much more transient workforce.

“There is a strong feeling among our members that they don’t want this to happen.”

Mr Grogan said: "I've met Health Minister Philip Dunne to express concerns that if trusts throughout the country continue setting up subsidiary companies there'll be a big loss of VAT revenue to the Exchequer, which could be used to fund NHS staff pay rises.

"I've been offered a meeting with Airedale NHS Foundation Trust representatives which I look forward to.”

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said: “There is a clear ideological agenda driven by this Tory Government to hand vital public services over to the private sector, and these plans by the BRI to set up a private business shows this privatisation by the back door in action, with the hospital opening up to selling off health care services in Bradford to private companies motivated by the goal of making a profit, a goal which will cause care and services, and ultimately patients, to suffer.

“Not only will these plans and allowing more private companies to operate in the NHS have a detrimental impact on patient care, they will also create a disastrous two-tier system that will see staff employed by the private company lose the employment and pension benefits they previously enjoyed, and the BRI must reverse their plans and recognise that there is no appetite in Bradford for private companies in our NHS, or risk walking into the disaster that this move will be.”

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins said: “Creating a separate company for some hospital workers is yet another example of the creeping privatisation of our NHS. Tearing up the NHS contracts of the lowest paid workers like porters and cleaners is bad for BRI staff, bad for the health service and bad for patients.

“I will be raising these issues with the BRI Chief Executive at my meeting with him later this week.”

Bradford West MP Naz Shah said: “I have spoken to bosses at BRI and explained to them that I shared the concerns of the unions. They assured me that the unions will be involved throughout the consultation. And I have been told that the decisions have not yet been taken, and remain in the consultation stages.”

However, Shipley MP Philip Davies had a different view, saying: “What I want a hospital to do is to provide the very best service at the most efficient price. I don’t have the same ideological obsession many do.

“The servies will still be provided wholly by an NHS hospital, so I don’t see it as privatisation. If the Trust then goes on to sell it to a private company, then that will be the time to complain.”

A spokesman for the trust said: “Like other Acute Trusts in West Yorkshire, we are currently reviewing options for the creation of ‘wholly owned subsidiaries’ run by the NHS for some services including estates and facilities.

“We have held initial briefings with staff and have invited our trade unions to present their members’ views at a board session. The board are as yet to take a decision on the way forward but commit to full engagement with staff, with patient needs being at the forefront of our decision making.”