UNISON has hit out at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, saying bosses have refused to reconsider plans to create a wholly owned subsidiary company.

As part of the move, hospital staff in the Trust's estates, facilities and clinical engineering departments will be transferred to a new company, affecting around 600 people.

The union fears the transfer will strip workers, including porters, domestic and security staff, of the protections they have as NHS employees and that it is "backdoor privatisation".

The Trust has denied it is privatising services and says the development of the new company is "essential".

UNISON Regional Organiser Natalie Ratcliffe said: "The management have said they are not prepared to go back to the Trust Board to ask them to re-consider, despite the prospect of members taking sustained industrial action next month.

“They are fully aware of the anger and anxiety among its own staff about this privatisation plan but are refusing to take the issue back for re-consideration.

“The Trust have said they will guarantee that these members will retain their pay and conditions for 25 years.

“But our members see that this is a promise that can be very easily broken in future.

“Almost 97 per cent of members have voted to take strike action but the Trust is ignoring their concerns, as if they are hell-bent on doing this regardless of what staff and patients feel about it.”

Tony Pearson, UNISON’s Head of Health in Yorkshire and Humberside, added: “The anger and resentment among its staff should be an urgent wake-up call for the Trust to think again.

“They seem to want to go full steam ahead and create a private company, unlike the vast majority of NHS Trusts in the UK who have shelved or postponed similar plans.

“These Trusts have done so in part because they know that there is likely to be a General Election within the next twelve months.

“They are aware that the Labour Party is passionately opposed to any further privatisation of the NHS, including the creation of subsidiary companies like the one planned for Bradford.

“I find it surprising that the Trust is pressing this change on Bradford and is not even prepared to suspend its plans until the political situation is clear, as many other Trusts have done.

“Industrial action in the NHS is always a last resort for our members but they are angry and disappointed and are fully committed to fighting for their futures.”

Meanwhile, Bradford South MP Judith Cummins called on the Government to intervene during health questions in Parliament.

Stephen Hammond MP, Minister of State for Health and Social Care said it was for the local organisation to take the decision.

A spokesperson for Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are absolutely not privatising services.

"We are creating a wholly owned subsidiary company for our Estates, Facilities and Clinical Engineering services which will be entirely owned and operated for and by the NHS.

“Staff who transfer to the new company, Bradford Healthcare Facilities Management Ltd (BHFML), will keep their NHS identity and be directly employed by this NHS-owned company. They will have access to all the NHS support services they have now.

“We are also committed to securing our staff’s future – that’s why we are guaranteeing to protect their current NHS terms and conditions for as long as the new company has the contract with the Trust, which is 25 years, and we are committed to protecting their membership of the NHS pension scheme.

“If we do nothing, and as the NHS funding challenges continue, the current Estates, Facilities and Clinical Engineering services will not be able to continue as they are; instead, we want to sustain and develop these services for future years.

“That’s why it is essential for us to develop BHFML and grow the business so it becomes more sustainable, successful and secure for everyone who works there.”