Nearly 1,700 people have signed a petition to stop the outsourcing of catering jobs at Hinchingbrooke Hospital to a private provider as part of 70 roles under the hospital trust.
The petition, set up by trade union Unison, is urging the North West Anglia Trust to keep the jobs of kitchen, linen and patient services staff under the NHS.
It comes as the catering team at Hinchingbrooke addressed an open letter to trust bosses earlier this month saying the decision in the midst of the pandemic had left them feeling “deeply upset and anxious”.
Graham Wilde, chief operating officer for the trust, said they would ensure they are “providing the best value for money for taxpayers while maintaining the high-quality services”.
However, union chiefs fear “workers could be paid less and morale will plummet”.
In a statement alongside the petition, it reads: “Outsourcing is bad for staff - workers are paid less than their directly employed NHS colleagues, conditions are worse, standards are worse and morale will plummet.
“And it’s bad for patients as well – private providers are responsible to their shareholders, not the public.
“Outsourcers are driven by getting a profit out of the contract, not providing patients with the best possible care and support.
“We are calling on the Trust to stop this outsourcing immediately and keep us in the NHS.”
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.
Mr Wilde 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.”
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.