Community health council staff have voiced frustration over the lack of official information on their future once CHCs are scrapped in line with the NHS plan.

Many of the 650 staff in English CHCs only heard their organisations were being abolished in news bulletins or by logging on to the Department of Health website when the plan emerged at the end of July.

Since then, junior health minister Gisela Stuart has issued a letter saying she hopes CHC staff will be relocated in the new structures it proposes.

But MSF union representative Janis Bryan, chief officer of Bromley CHC, said 'there has been nothing further from the centre'.

The publication by health secretary Alan Milburn of a new human resources framework for the NHS has stoked the anger of many CHCs.

Ms Bryan said she found it hard to believe that the Mr Milburn who promised that NHS organisations would now 'be held accountable for the way they treat and support staff 'was the same Mr Milburn who forced 'hundreds of CHC staff to learn about abolition from a website'.

Hounslow CHC chief officer Anne Blanche, who has worked in the NHS since 1959, said: 'How dare that man get up and say that? I have been a personnel officer. I have never seen staff treated as badly as this.'

Staff with children and mortgages were already looking for other jobs, she said, even though CHCs could continue for another two years.

A DoH spokesperson said it would 'aim to redeploy CHC staff wherever possible'.

But officials were meeting union representatives, he said, and the DoH could not write to CHC staff if 'we are still in negotiations about what the future will be'.