A consultation on job cuts at the Department of Health will be announced on Thursday, HSJ has been told.

The cuts will affect more than 300 staff working on departmental programmes, who are referred to as “hosted workers” because they are technically employed by the Business Services Authority.

A BSA spokesman said the affected staff worked “across a number of directorates within the DH and include programmes such as parts of the personal social services [team], parts of the national mental health development unit and a number of national support teams”.

National support teams work directly with primary care trusts on public health priorities, including childhood obesity, health inequalities, immunisation and infant mortality.

The spokesman said the BSA had been “instructed” by the DH to issue letters “regarding potential redundancy” to “over 300” staff. A spokeswoman for the DH confirmed the formal consultation letters would be sent on 1 July.

She said: “The letter relates to programme-funded staff working through the Business Services Authority. [It] advises these staff of changes in the priorities for the department [and] that, as a result of the new government’s agenda and the funding needed for reinvestment in the NHS, we will commence formal consultation about the possibility of their work ending.”

She said programme-funded staff working at strategic health authorities and primary care trusts could also be affected and would be contacted separately.

A source told HSJ the letter outlines a three month consultation period and says projects under way should be wound up no later than March 2011.

The DH spokeswoman said it was “reviewing all business planning processes as part of the efficiency measures across government. This includes looking at individual programmes of work.”