Guy's and St Thomas' foundation trust has denied claims by the union Unite that it is attempting to privatise its pathology services against Department of Health guidance.

Unite (Amicus section) has claimed that plans to privatise the£38m pathology services at the trust go against DoH advice that strategic health authorities not make changes to pathology services until the results of the independent review it has commissioned are known.

It also accused the trust of using its foundation status to 'attempt to avoid the present regulations that ensure the private sector provides genuine value'. It estimated that the privatisation process could affect 600 pathology staff and have adverse implications for patients.

Unite fears a 'creeping programme of privatisation across London' which has already taken over pathology services in Ealing Hospital, Hammersmith Hospitals and West Middlesex University Hospital trusts.

'Railroading'

Unite head of health Kevin Coyne said: 'Guy's and St Thomas' appear to be railroading their plans to commercialise services against DoH advice, and without even attempting to consult with staff representatives or provide meaningful evidence of the need to undertake this exercise.

'We are calling on the government to stop this move, which will make London the pathology privatisation capital.'

The trust denied the privatisation claims and said it was a joint venture combining the strengths of the NHS and independent sectors that would keep up with the competition and improve patient care.

Dr Jonathan Edgeworth, clinical director of pathology at the trust, said: 'We have yet to decide which services will be part of any joint venture we may enter into, and we do not therefore recognise the figures being quoted by Unite.

'Not only do we wish to take advantage of opportunities to develop services, but we need to safeguard our services and workforce against the impact which increased competition may have.'

A DoH spokesperson backed the trust: 'While the work of the review is a key part of our pathology modernisation programme, it has never been our intention to impose a freeze on change in individual trusts.'