THE Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is being urged to halt its plans to create a wholly owned subsidiary company.

It comes amid a ballot for strike action, due to close today, and fears about the “backdoor privatisation” of some of its services.

As part of the move, hospital staff in the trust’s estates, facilities and clinical engineering departments will be transferred to a new company.

The union says this is being done to cut costs by exploiting a tax loophole and fears the transfer will strip workers of the protections they have as NHS employees.

The trust, which includes the Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, has denied it is privatising services and says the new company is the “best way of continuing to provide high quality care for patients”.

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins has written to both Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the CEO of NHS Improvement to demand the plans are halted.

She said: “It is wrong that such drastic plans are being pushed through by Bradford Teaching Hospitals Trust when they are currently being led by a temporary chief executive and temporary chair. I will be meeting with the trust’s Chief Executive this month, where I will be demanding that their plans to create a wholly owned subsidiary company be put on hold until a permanent leadership team is put in place. This in my opinion is the best way to avoid any industrial action that will disrupt services to patients, whilst protecting the rights of staff.”

Her fellow Bradford MPs Naz Shah and Imran Hussain have also hit out at the plans.

Natalie Ratcliffe, regional organiser from Unison, said: “The trust keep repeating the so called 25-year promise that nothing will change.

"I would simply remind members: our legal advice is that the 25-year guarantee is very limited and does not give the protection people may believe it does. In correspondence with Unison, the trust have accepted that in “certain circumstance” employers can lawfully dismiss and re-engage workers on different terms and conditions provided they are following a fair process and have a good business reason.”

The Telegraph & Argus approached the trust for comment.

It has previously said: "The trust is not privatising services: we have set up a wholly owned subsidiary which will be entirely owned and operated by and for the NHS. The trust’s board has a strong commitment to ensure all our staff are treated well, in line with our values, and this means an assurance that their terms and conditions will remain protected for the lifetime of the agreed contract, expected to be 25 years. We have also taken steps to ensure that they can continue to be part of the NHS pension scheme.

“We believe that the new company is the best way of continuing to provide high quality care for patients, by ensuring the sustainability and future development of these important support services.”