BRADFORD hospital staff will go on strike early next month, it has been confirmed.

It comes after more than 200 staff working for the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust voted to take industrial action in a bid to defend their pay and conditions.

Unison balloted its 313 affected members after the Trust unveiled plans to set up 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.

The trust, which includes 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”.

Strike action is due to take place between 6am on July 8 and 6am on July 15, with the union saying it will go ahead unless the Trust changes its plans.

Earlier this month, Unison hit out at the Trust, saying bosses refused to reconsider the plans.

Unison Regional Organiser Natalie Ratcliffe said there was "anger and anxiety" among staff. Bradford South MP Judith Cummins has also criticised the plans.

At health questions in Parliament last week, she called on the Government to intervene, and asked health minister Stephen Hammond: "Given that the Trust is currently run by a temporary chair, a temporary chief executive, and is acting on guidance from a now defunct body, will the Minister call upon the Trust to drop these plans and keep the NHS family as one?”

Mr Hammond said it was down to the local organisation to take that 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.”