More than half of senior NHS managers fear savings plans will have a negative impact on quality, an HSJ survey has found.

The survey, which explored how organisations were approaching the quality, innovation, productivity and prevention programme, found that less than a third of respondents believed quality benefits were clearly identified and measurable.

Respondents, most of whom worked in acute and primary care trusts, were asked if they were confident that the financial improvement schemes their organisation had put in place would not have a negative impact on quality. Only 43 per cent agreed.

Just 45 per cent of the 244 respondents were confident their organisation would be able to make the necessary savings, while only 27 per cent agreed that the benefits of financial improvement schemes were “real”.

Craig Barratt, director of consultancy firm BDO which sponsored the survey, said this pessimism could occur where NHS bodies’ departmental plans marked savings of 3 per cent on every service line but did not set out how it would be delivered.

“The numbers are real but the savings are not. That so few people have faith in the reality of their plans is a stark finding,” he said.

Data collected from the online survey and analysed by the role of respondents showed more negative responses from people working for PCTs and revealed a disparity between the views of more positive leaders and their gloomier middle managers.

Mr Barratt said that while the figures are too small to allow statistical comparison the results “point towards a leadership gap”.