Two West Midlands health trusts must reconsider plans to force around 150 IT staff to move to a new private company, affecting their future pay and employment rights, says UNISON ​today (Monday).

The ​employees at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust have been told that if they don’t accept new contracts​, they could lose their jobs, says the union.

Staff are united in their opposition to the move, which could lead to them slipping behind Trust colleagues when any future national pay awards are agreed, and amounts to “backdoor privatisation”, UNISON says.

The two employers intend to move the workers to a “wholly owned subsidiary” company, created to sell IT services to other NHS organisations.

They would no longer be NHS employees, putting at risk the pay protection and rights they currently have, and the trusts ​could well sell the company to any private concern in the future, says UNISON.

Several trusts around England have dropped similar moves in recent months after facing opposition.

UNISON ​West Midlands regional organiser Mike Wilson, the union’s lead representative for the two trusts, said: “The employers have claimed that these dedicated IT staff lack commitment to the health service, but it’s simply not true.

“These workers are just as passionate about the NHS as any member of the frontline clinical staff. They are proud to be playing their part working for the health service and want to stay.

“The creation of companies like this is simply backdoor privatisation. The pandemic has shown how much the public cherish the NHS and all the staff who to deliver its services. The last thing they want to see is for the health service to be broken up.

“Employers must rethink these plans and respect the staff’s wishes to remain ​as NHS employees.”