jobs will be lost after health bosses announced the closure of the Royal Bolton Hospital’s laundry service.

Up to five jobs will go when the service, which has operated from a Victorian building for more than 40 years, closes next month.

It will then be contracted to a private provider in early May.

There are 19 people employed in the laundry department and nine, who deliver laundry, will keep their jobs.

Another five are expected to be redeployed elsewhere, but five staff members, some of whom have worked at the hospital for 30 years, face losing their jobs.

Hospital chiefs say the current building is no longer fit for purpose and they cannot afford to replace the out-dated equipment and machinery, or to build a new laundry room, which could cost up to £2.5 million.

The existing facility, which washes 2,434,936 items every year, will be demolished. But unions have slammed the hospital’s lack of investment in the machinery over the past few years.

Harry Handley, branch secretary of Unison, said: “The staff are very upset.

“Six years ago they volunteered to have a 12-month pay freeze and they were promised this would save their jobs but a few years down the line those jobs have gone because of lack of investment.

“It is very annoying and upsetting because those people work really hard in that laundry.

“Anything that goes out of the NHS is a kick in the teeth for us.”

The hospital could not reveal the cost of the laundry service as bosses said it was commercially sensitive.

Heather Edwards, head of communication at the Royal Bolton Hospital, added: “After very detailed and careful consideration, we have decided outsourcing offers the best value for taxpayers’ money and we are in discussion with a preferred provider for this.

“We are working with our Staff Side union representatives to ensure as far as possible we redeploy our laundry staff.

“It is possible up to five posts will go, but redundancy payments will be available from the new provider of the laundry service.”