Union leaders are up in arms over plans by hospital bosses to move vital staff into the private sector.

Their concern follows a move by the trust that runs Slough's Wexham Park and Ascot's Heatherwood hospitals to set up a subsidiary company to run non-clinical support services.

Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust insists that making this move would not represent a 'privatisation' as the new company would be wholly owned by the trust and long term service contracts would be agreed with staff

The trust - which also runs Frimley Park Hospital - says that any savings made by the change would go straight back into the NHS with staff transferring to the new company on the same terms and conditions as before.

But Gary Palmer, regional organiser for the GMB union that represents support workers warned that they still faced being moved out of the private sector and 'into the cut throat world of the private profiteers'.

He said: "The fact that the trust are choosing to be that profiteer instead of the normal suspects is of no comfort to GMB members and trust staff at all.

"They will simply be no longer part of the NHS, with new employees getting lesser terms and conditions, non-comparable pay and pensions while working alongside existing colleagues doing the same work.

"GMB urges Frimley NHS trust and its chief executive Neil Dardis to think again."

A statement from the trust said that staff had been fully consulted about the proposed change.

It said: "Staff transferred to the new organisation will still be highly valued members of the Frimley Health family and are essential to the continued delivery of great patient care.

"By making them the heart of the new organisation they will have a greater opportunity for further growth and development."

The trust said a great number of NHS trusts around the country had already successfully established their own wholly owned subsidiary companies, which protected jobs while keeping essential services in house.