A UNION has warned a two-tier workforce would be “poisonous and destructive” if plans to create “wholly owned subsidiary companies” by NHS Trusts go ahead.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Bradford Royal Infirmary and St |Lukes Hospital, will make a decision in July whether to go forward with the creation of an Alternative Delivery Model (ADM) for estates and facilities services.

Implementation would see management and maintenance of hospital estates and facilities - and the staff providing the services - moved from the NHS into the new companies.

Airedale General Hospital has already “gone live” with the TUPE (transfer of undertakings, protection of employment) on March 1 and transferred 319 staff to the subsidiary, which also includes procurement services.

Speaking at a meeting of Bradford Council’s health and social care overview and scrutiny committee, Michael Parkinson, local organiser for trade union, Unison, said: “Staff will be sacrificial lambs. A two-tier situation would be created because new employees would not be on the same NHS terms and conditions for existing staff, leading to people working side by side doing the same job on worse pay and conditions. “This inevitably leads to anger and resentment and its divisive effects destroys morale and makes recruitment and retention of new staff very difficult

“Taking away people’s NHS status will obviously affect morale. They are proud to be part of the NHS and are rightly worried about what will happen to them in future

“The TUPE regulations which protect transferring staff are in reality easily swept aside if the company can argue a business case for scrapping them and there is nothing to stop these subsidiary companies selling them on at some stage in the future meaning staff feel deeply insecure about their jobs.

“There are also grave concerns about these companies being the thin end of the wedge, paving the way for more privatisation and ultimately the replacement of the NHS with US style personal insurance schemes which deny 20 million Americans access to any healthcare at all.”

Matthew Horner, director of finance with the Bradford NHS Trust said: “We are in a slightly different position to Airedale and are still in the process of considering the options.

“We will review all options available and are mindful of various models established across Yorkshire.”

Clive Kay, chief executive with the Trust added that he wanted to pay tribute to the “exceptional” work Airedale NHS Foundation Trust had done in their transfer process.

The Royal College of Nursing has also raised concerns over the creation of ‘wholly owned subsidiary’ companies by NHS trusts in the district.

The RCN says any new staff taken on may not be employed on NHS terms and conditions, or guaranteed an NHS pension.

Glenn Turp, Regional Director for the RCN in Yorkshire and the Humber region said: “Whilst our members aren’t directly affected, we fully understand why other unions may decide to ballot their members over the issue.

“Staff must be fully consulted and involved in any decision and trusts should make public full details of any proposed variations from Agenda for Change, the NHS national pay terms and conditions, for new staff.”

The committee resolved to note the concerns of Unison and asked for assurances of transparency and scrutiny during the consultation process.