Hospital bosses have been accused of risking hygiene to save money.
Domestic staff at Bedford Hospital were told last week that bosses are planning to ‘market test’ cleaning services.
But trade union UNISON describe this as the first step towards privatising the service - and warn that research shows that hospitals with privatised cleaning services have higher rates of infection.
Hospital bosses said that no decision has been made.
UNISON spokesman Winston Dorsett said: “Outsourcing would be a kick in the teeth for the domestics at Bedford Hospital.
“They went to bosses earlier this week asking for a pledge to quash the rumours about their service being sold out of the NHS. Instead they were told their fears could come true.
“It would not only be bad news for the cleaning staff. This could do real harm to patients as profit-hungry private companies come in looking for ways to cut corners.”
UNISON also believe that the move would also drive down pay and conditions, as staff will no longer be on nationally-agreed NHS contracts and new staff will likely be employed on worse conditions, creating a two-tier workforce.
Bedford Hospital’s high quality of cleanliness has been recognised by the Department of Health, which has designated it an exemplar site for its Patient Environment Action Team standards.
A spokesman for Bedford Hospital said: Bedford Hospital NHS Trust would like to confirm that no decision has been taken to outsource our domestic (cleaning) services at this time and no papers have been submitted to the joint staff-side management committee (which includes trade union representatives) or the trust board on this matter.”