A contract worth £2.25 billion has been awarded to a German company to fight disease in south east London, but the process has been slammed as 'murky' by a union representing a rival bidder.

The South East London Clinical Commissioning Group last week named international medical provider Synlab as the preferred bidder for the massive 15 year pathology contract.

This will provisionally see Synlab provide pathology services to five NHS trusts and GP services in the south east London, effectively leading the diagnosis of disease in the region.

The company's chief executive, Arnaud Gueny, said he was pleased to confirm that the NHS had identified them as their preferred partner to "transform and deliver pathology services in South East London."

But Unite have "slammed" a procurement process they say has been "murky from the outset."

The union, which has 192 members at Viapath, the current holders of the contract and rival bidders, has demanded that the SE London CCG make the case for Synlab winning the contest public.

They have warned that the final decision, which will be made in April, must not be based on 'which bidder can cut the most'.

The contract decision is thought to be a major blow to Viapath's profits, and jobs could be at risk.

Unite regional officer George Dodo-Williams said: "The procurement process for this contract has been murky from the outset and Unite is particularly concerned about the lack of engagement with stakeholders, including pathologists and GPs.

“This is obviously a time of great concern for our members and SEL CCG needs to stop keeping them in the dark. The case for choosing Synlab as the preferred bidder and the potential impact this could have on staff and services must be released.

The union wants a meeting with the NHS group to provide clarity on workforce plans and criterion for selection.

“SEL CCG must not award the contract on the basis of which bidder can cut the most and we call on the group to provide guarantees that staff will not be targeted. Unite is demanding a meeting with the SEL CCG to update us on the process, criterion for selection and workforce plans as soon as possible.”