Most managers believe there are too many trusts and that services need to be reconfigured, a survey shows.

But while they view the current pattern of trusts as 'inconsistent and irrational', they are concerned that mergers remain politically rather than service driven.

The Institute of Health Services Management survey also confirms managers' view that mergers do not release the financial savings sought by government.

About 500 senior managers responded to the survey. Preliminary findings show that 72 per cent think there are too many trusts and 85 per cent believe service reconfiguration is necessary for the future of the NHS.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents signalled that they thought the majority of mergers would save less than pounds1m a year in revenue costs, and 65 per cent agreed mergers were politically driven.

The IHSM warns that the decision to reconfigure trusts should not be taken lightly, and suggests a halt to further mergers until the impact of the white paper begins to be felt.

Reconfiguration can then be dovetailed with the central strategy for capital development.