Health staff who drive patients to and from hospitals are to be balloted for strikes in a row over plans to privatise their work.

Members of the GMB trade union employed by London Ambulance Service will vote over the next few days on whether to launch a campaign of industrial action, which could start on 31 August. The ballot will close on 24 August.

The work of transporting patients across south-east London has been put out to tender by the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

The patient transport contact covers employees working out of Greenwich, Barnhurst and Bromley Ambulance stations. They transport patient attending Guys & St Thomas, Kings College, Lewisham and Royal Marsden Hospitals.

They cover most of South East London, including Woolwich, Barnhurst, Erith, Sidcup, Welling, Lewisham, Farnborough, and Biggin Hill.

GMB regional officer Rob Macey, who represent members at London Ambulance Service, said: “An official GMB ballot on strike action has commenced to prevent SavoyVentures being awarded this contract and to get cast iron assurances that the rules on procurement and staff transfers will be adhered to.”