Catering services at three Leeds hospitals are to be contracted out to a private company.
Bosses at Leeds Teaching Hospitals are set to put out the contract at St James’s, Chapel Allerton and Wharfedale hospitals to tender as they are making a loss.
But this will mean volunteers from charity WRVS will no longer be able to run tea bars in the hospitals.
A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said: “A review of the current staff and visitor catering facilities across our hospitals has shown that the restaurant service the Trust runs at three of our sites – St James’s, Chapel Allerton, and Wharfedale – currently operates at a loss, despite a number of attempts to improve this situation.
“As a result we have therefore decided to put the contract to run staff and visitor catering facilities at these three hospitals out to tender. A precedent for this exists, as these services at Leeds General Infirmary are already run successfully by an external contractor, and this provides an income stream for the Trust.
“We acknowledge that this will impact on the current facilities run by the WRVS, including the Tea Bar in the Outpatient department at Wharfedale Hospital, as the new contract will include all the staff and visitor catering facilities across the three hospital sites.”
“We have been keeping the WRVS informed of our plans and would like to stress that the decision is a commercial one which is aimed at ensuring we get the best value for money, as we do not believe our restaurants should be subsidised from patient care budgets.”
He thanked the WRVS volunteers and said it was hoped they would continue to be involved.
Paul Taylor, WRVS area manager for the North West, Yorkshire and Humber, said: “We would like to thank all of our volunteers and staff for their hard work in making the services a success – we know their efforts have been very much appreciated by those using them.
“We’re talking to all of the volunteers about new opportunities – including at our retail site at Seacroft Hospital – and hope many will continue working with us. We also continue to enjoy a strong working relationship with Leeds hospitals trust and are discussing any other ways we can further develop our partnership.”