Workers at Chesterfield Royal Hospital could take industrial action after bosses passed controversial plans to move hundreds of staff to an independent company.
More than 700 employees are currently being consulted regarding their transfer from the NHS to a subsidiary company called Derbyshire Support and Facilities Services (DSFS).
People working in finance, IT, procurement, clinical engineering and estates and facilities are affected.
According to Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, DSFS – which is expected to launch on December 1 – will be wholly-owned by the trust and all transferred staff will keep all their existing terms and conditions, employment rights and liabilities.
DSFS will safeguard services, protect jobs for hundreds of people, save money and operate ‘on a more commercial footing’, added the trust – which needs to save £8million in 2018-19.
On Wednesday and Thursday, members of UNISON – the largest trade union in the UK – are being asked to take part in a consultative ballot on industrial action.
Protesters believe the subsidiary company is ‘a form of backdoor privatisation’ and fear it will have ‘direct consequences for healthcare staff and potentially damaging ramifications for the NHS’.
They are also concerned about the possible creation of a ‘two-tier workforce’, management having more power over staff and existing terms and conditions not being protected in the long-term.
A trust spokesperson said: “We entirely respect the right for union members to consult and ballot, completely understanding that any change on this scale will lead to anxieties and concerns amongst our colleagues.
“Whilst making this decision in public, the trust sought and welcomed the views and opinions of colleagues across all areas of the hospital from the outset.
“These comments shaped the plan going forward and we remain committed to continuing those discussions and working with colleagues across the trust throughout the coming months to help secure these essential services.
“As we said when the decision was announced, the wholly-owned subsidiary and those working within will continue to play a vital role at this hospital, working collectively to help maintain a full range of clinical services where patients can receive the best possible care.”