A TRADE union has told the borough's hospital trust that staff are set to go on strike for two consecutive days later this month.

Around 600 Unison members at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Foundation Trust (WWL) who work in in catering, cleaning and portering are due to go on strike on Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday, May 24.

The move is in response to the WWL's proposal to outsource NHS workers' jobs to a private company called WWL Solutions.

In a formal ballot that closed last week, 89 per cent voted "Yes" to take industrial action with a 73 per cent turnout.

Unison North West regional organiser Sean Gibson said: “Providing quality care is a team effort and it is hugely important to staff that they are all part of the NHS team.

"Our members feel very strongly that they do not want their employment to be shifted to an outsourced company.

"They feel so strongly that they are willing to take strike action to stop it.

"Staff are very upset and angry that they have contributed to the success of the trust and are now having their wishes ignored by senior management.

"They don’t want thanks, they just want to be allowed to continue working directly for the NHS.

“A strike now looks very likely.

"Time is short and the trust needs to listen to its staff and act now to ditch the WWL Solutions proposal.”

The trust has expressed its "disappointment" over Unison's decision to strike.

A WWL spokesman said: "We have always enjoyed an excellent relationship with our staff and trade unions, and our staff survey results are the best in Greater Manchester.

"We acknowledge and respect that staff have concerns about these proposals and we have taken significant steps to understand and respond to their anxieties.  

"Firstly, we have tried hard to meet our staff’s main concerns by offering assurances that they will retain their NHS pay, terms and pensions and remain fully part of the NHS.

"Secondly, we have suspended the decision-making process until the end of June in order to receive and explore alternatives.

"Thirdly, we have offered to invite ACAS to help resolve the dispute.

"We would like to reassure our patients, staff and the public that we have contingency plans in place to ensure that our services will continue to run as smoothly and safely as possible during the industrial action.

"However, some disruption to services is likely, and we will advise patients accordingly.

"Where possible, we advise patients to use alternatives during industrial action.

"We are grateful to Unison who has assured us that patient safety will be protected during industrial action by permitting essential staffing levels."

The trust added that an internal survey found that the vast majority of staff believe "WWL Solutions is a better option than outsourcing or cutting staff levels and services for patients".