UNISON is calling on the public to show their support for NHS staff it says are to be transfered to a private company.

The union says that Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust are planning to transfer over 600 staff to the private sector, including those who work in portering, patient meals, switchboard, housekeepers, stores, security, retail catering, linen, waste and cleaning.

Staff will march from Treliske hospital into Truro followed by a rally on Lemon Quay on Saturday, May 17 at 10 am.

A UNISON spekesman said "Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) who run NHS acute services at 3 hospital sites in Cornwall, Treliske in Truro, West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance and St Michaels Hospital in Hayle, have invited bids from a number of private companies to provide support services (hotel services) for up to 10 years, across the three hospital sites.

"UNISON fears that services and patient care will be compromised by the drive to cut costs and to make profits for the shareholders. The current services provided by the NHS staff are high quality and cost efficient. The in-house team have been delivering savings year on year and improving the services provided.

"UNISON believes that if there are any more savings which could be delivered these should be ploughed back into patient care not paid out to private company shareholders. The failure of private sector companies to provide NHS services in Cornwall in high profile contracts in recent years should serve as a lesson that private is not best."