Jobs of award-winning catering staff at Hinchingbrooke Hospital will be outsourced to a private provider as part of 70 roles under the hospital trust.

Around 30 “distressed” staff signed an open letter to the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust yesterday (August 27) urging bosses to keep their roles as part of the NHS.

More than 70 catering, logistics and patient services staff in Peterborough, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford and Rutland hospitals were told their jobs would be outsourced from January next year.

In a letter from the catering team at Hinchingbrooke, staff said rumours of the move had left them feeling “deeply upset and anxious having significant negative impact on mental wellbeing”.

They wrote: “It is shameful that in the middle of such unprecedented times we are being put through this process at a time of such challenge to the NHS as a whole.

“We believe that the trust owes us much more than the way we are being treated.”

Unions have also warned that not only will staff suffer as they will no longer be entitled to NHS pay and conditions, but patients could experience “deteriorating standards”.

Unite regional officer Adam Oakes, said: “Outsourcing NHS staff to private providers at a time when the NHS is stretched fighting a national health pandemic is completely unacceptable.

“It will detrimentally affect patient care as well as cutting the pay and conditions of vital hardworking frontline staff.”

Graham Wilde, chief operating officer for North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, said they would ensure they are “providing the best value for money for taxpayers while maintaining the high-quality services”.

He stated: “We are working closely with approximately 70 trust staff affected by this process and the existing providers and we will be holding regular staff briefing sessions to keep them updated.

“We are also meeting regularly with representatives from Unite and Unison to discuss any concerns they may have and to ensure that they are aware of the timetable and approach being taken.”

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Hinchingbrooke Hospital was even named as one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for food – and was the first to win a Craft Guild of Chefs Award in 2018.

The trust originally started the outsourcing process in March but paused because of the pandemic.

Companies are now being invited to put in tenders for the contracts by September 18.