Outsourced hospital workers will be asked whether they are prepared to go on strike as a dispute over 40 proposed job cuts continues to cause tension.

The workers, employed by private company Mitie for St George’s Hospital in Tooting to carry out non-medical work, have been protesting against the cuts, saying they would make the hospital unsafe.

They argued the increased workload would be unmanageable, and the plans to make cleaners serve food to patients would pose a hygiene risk.

GMB, the union for the staff, will conduct a ballot next week to ask whether they want to take strike action.

GMB regional organiser Helen O’Connor said: “Our members, who also use the services in St George’s Hospital themselves, are proud to work for the NHS and they care about the patients too, which is why they are so determined to stop Mitie cutting the hospital cleaning.

“They already struggle with the huge workload and they cannot understand how Mitie’s plans to cut staffing and extend services will lead to ‘improved efficiency and productivity’.

“No hospital worker wants to go out on strike but if Mitie fail to provide assurances to these workers they will fight to protect St George’s Hospital.”

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Mitie is currently consulting its 600 St George’s staff on the plans.

A spokesperson said: “Our teams provide valuable services every day to support our NHS. We’ve invested in the latest technology as well staff recognition and development, to ensure service excellence in support of the critical work that hospital staff carry out every day.

“The proposed changes to operating models reflect current benchmarks and NHS expectations. The consultation is ongoing, and we continue to work closely with both our client and the union.

“We are committed to continuing to enhance services through improved working methods based on NHS best practice and invest in better equipment and technology to make our colleagues jobs easier.”

A spokesperson for St George’s said: “We are aware of the consultation process Mitie is undertaking with their staff, as well as the ongoing discussions with GMB.

“Our focus remains on providing outstanding care, every time for our patients, staff, and the communities we serve.”