Around 2,500 staff at three primary care trust provider arms in the North East are to be balloted about becoming the largest social enterprise in the health sector.

NHS North of Tyne is a commissioning cluster comprising NHS North Tyneside, NHS Newcastle and Northumberland Care Trust. It has a single chief executive and executive team.

NHS Newcastle and North Tyneside Community Health chair Richard Adams told HSJ the board was planning to ballot staff at the PCTs’ provider arms later this month.

If the social enterprise goes ahead it would become a community interest company and the largest such scheme comprising former NHS organisations to date.

The two biggest social enterprises up and running are Hull, where the provider arm became a community interest company in June, and Central Surrey Health, which is owned by the nurses and therapists who provide its services.

Mr Adams said the other option on the ballot paper will be splitting services between the two local acute foundation trusts - Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust and Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

The ballot will be conducted by an independent company and the result revealed on 6 September.

The Department of Health announced this month the right to request that the scheme for becoming a social enterprise would close on 30 September.