THE result of a survey of union members is due today as bosses prepare to meet with NHS directors tomorrow following the announcement of possible ‘privatisation’ of part of the NHS in Bradford.

Unison has polled its members in an indicative ballot, to see whether members would support strike action over the proposed changes.

Last week, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary and St Luke’s Hospital, said it was looking at setting up a “wholly owned subsidiary”.

It would be a company separate from the hospital that would 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 set-up would lead to major savings.

But it was branded “privatisation by the back door” by local MPs and Unison.

Michael Parkinson, area organiser for Unison, said ballot cards had been sent out around Christmas time, but some members had only received them in the post on Friday.

He said: “The original closing date was Monday but this has been extended to today.

“We conducted an indicative ballot – like a survey – of members to get an indication of the strength of feeling.

“We have a slot to speak to the board of directors of the NHS trust tomorrow, and it was always our intention to have the result by then.”

Bradford Labour MPs Imran Hussain, Judith Cummins and Naz Shah have all been critical of the plan to set up a new company, with Mr Hussain saying it would create a “disastrous two-tier system”, and Ms Cummins calling the plan an “example of the creeping privatisation of our NHS”.

Shipley MP Philip Davies said he was not against the move, as he wanted the NHS to provide “the best service at the most efficient price”, but if the company was sold on he would have concerns.

Mr Hussain, MP for Bradford East, said he would support the workers’ decision.

He said: “Whilst I oppose privatisation and support the employment rights of staff, it is clear that the Trust would not have had to make this decision if the Government properly funded the NHS and abandoned its ideological privatisation agenda.

“Already meagre NHS resources need to be spent on patients, not on setting up a private business, and they must be run in the aims of caring for patients, not in the aims of generating a profit.”

The Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s board of directors open meeting is at 9.45am tomorrow at Field House, BRI.