Workers at five NHS Logistics depots are to go on strike after 75 per cent voted in favour of industrial action.
It comes in response to the government’s decision to privatise the £1.6bn operation and bring in DHL Logistics.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the health workers union, Unison, said: “These are hardworking public service workers who have never taken strike action before and they are making a stand to protect their service and protect our NHS.”
“NHS Logistics is an award winning service and it makes no sense to sell it off.”
A spokesperson for the Department for Health said: “A contingency planning group has been formed, comprising senior representatives from NHS Logistics Operations, Customer Services and HR. A letter has been sent to all trusts procurement hubs to advise them of steps they can take…”
“All Distribution Centre Controllers have been instructed to maintain a full staff complement at all times and to keep in place the temporary staff recruited for holiday cover so that we can respond to the anticipated increase in demand from customers and have additional cover in the event of Industrial action.”
A timetable for the strike is expected to be released on Friday, however the affected depots are thought to be; Normanton, Runcorn, Maidstone, Bury St Edmunds and Alfreton.
NHS Logistics currently handles the around 50,000 product lines, supplying hospitals and GP surgeries with everything from blankets to syringes.
DHL said: “DHL hopes that this dispute can be resolved very quickly by the relevant parties for the sake of all employees. We, along with other parties, wish to ensure that the delivery of high quality, innovative goods to the NHS across England remains uninterrupted and continues to supports patient care.”
“DHL will seek to create an additional 1,000 jobs over the 10 year contract and build two new distribution centres in England.”
“Upon full transfer of the business, DHL is looking forwarding to continuing to engage with employees and employee representatives as it does throughout the rest of its 600 UK operations, which employ 70,000 staff.”