A petition has been launched aiming to prevent the “unacceptable risk” of starting new private contracts at Lewisham and Greenwich hospitals.

Campaigners are concerned of "another Carillion situation" developing at the hospitals by relying on private contracts, with the construction and services company having left a massive debt in the wake of its collapse last year.

With the “soft facilities” contracts, meaning everything from cleaning, pest control and waste management, running out next year, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust is looking at the best options to renew them.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and Lewisham Hospital are both covered under these contracts and they are currently run by a private company.

The petition questions the decision to keep these contracts with private companies rather than running them in house as “particularly in light of the recent collapse of outsourcer Carillion, that to continue to rely on private companies to run these essential services presents an unacceptable risk.”

The petition has been launched by the trade union GMB and has been backed by Greenwich and Woolwich MP Matthew Pennycook and Labour Lewisham mayoral candidate Damien Egan.

The petition says: “We full appreciate that eight years of chronic under-funding and the burden of a substantial PFI debt mean that the Trust is in a precarious financial position.

“However, we believe that there is robust evidence to suggest that bringing soft facilities back in-house could result in an overall financial saving and improved service delivery.”

Damien Egan said: “We believe that public services should be run for people, not for profit. So I am fully behind GMB’s campaign to bring these important services back in house.”

Lewisham Councillor Alan Hall said: “I am supporting this petition to improve pay for low paid hospital workers and for real improvements in the services provided to help patients and clinical staff. These are essential services for our NHS.

“I am urging Lewisham and Greenwich residents to join me by signing this petition to keep the pressure up ending poverty pay locally.”

A spokeswoman from Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said: “We are planning to retender the contracts for support services at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, which are due for renewal in April 2019.

“As part of this process, we expect to consider bids from public sector as well as commercial organisations.”