A Birmingham hospital has denied claims that NHS staff and buildings will be handed over to the private sector as part of new contracts.
Documents obtained by Hospital Doctor magazine suggested that companies bidding for contracts to treat NHS patients would be allowed to take over NHS premises, doctors and nurses.
It gave Birmingham City Hospital's new NHS treatment centre as an example, where all surgical facilities are likely to be run by the private sector.
But a Birmingham and Black Country Strategic Health Authority spokeswoman said that, although independent tenders had been sought for contracts for the new diagnostic treatment centre at the Dudley Road site, no NHS staff or buildings would be lost to the private sector as a result.
She said: "People have been invited to tender for the contract but we haven't yet received bids so no decision has been made to award the contract.
"It is part of a national commitment and we are no different from that. No NHS staff will be lost. They may be seconded but that level of detail will come down to the individual contract."
The centre will concentrate on elective surgery. It is hoped that it will lead to fewer operations being cancelled because there will be no accident and emergency attached.
Peter Spilsbury, director of strategy at the health authority said: "In line with national policy the SHA has been identifying options to increase independent sector activity, in the interests of introducing contestability and greater choice for patients.
"We are exploring this option as a potential way to increase the choices our population are offered and for the opportunities it offers to achieve clinical service transformation."
Hospital Doctor claimed confidential documents, sent to potential bidders in a £2.5 billion procurement programme, showed that rather than supplementing NHS provision, many of the contracts would move services into the private sector.
Ray Salmon, regional organiser for Unison, said the union would be challenging the Government over the issue at next week's Labour Party conference.
He said: "It's appalling. We have evidence that staff work better when they are working within the NHS. Private isn't better in our view."
He gave cleaning contracts at Birmingham's Heartlands Hospital as an example, saying they had only begun to improve once the terms and conditions of workers were brought in line with those of NHS staff.
Paul Miller, chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee, said it now seemed that NHS services could simply be taken over by the private sector.
He said: "It is very worrying. It is almost like they are giving up on the NHS provision and opening it up to private provision."
He added: "It is unquestionable that we are seeing a significant privatisation of the provision of healthcare."
But Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said that no NHS staff or facilities would be lost to the Health Service as a result of increased use of the private sector.
She said: "There is no question of the NHS being privatised. By 2009 the independent sector will only account for about one per cent of the overall NHS budget and about ten per cent of all elective operations."