Many healthcare providers are planning staff reductions to help cut costs, while some are concerned they already have too few to meet demand, the HSJ/NHS Employers survey shows.

Three quarters of the 70 NHS provider human resources directors who responded to the Barometer survey said their organisation planned to cut admin staff in the next year, and 53 per cent said the number of managers would be reduced.

Most directors were from hospital trusts, with the remainder from mental health and community providers. Just over a quarter, 27 per cent, said they planned to reduce their nursing headcount, while one in five said they planned to cut medical headcount. Fourteen respondents estimated how many posts they planned to cut in the next year, giving a total of around 2,400 whole time equivalent posts.

While many were planning cuts, a third of respondents said they were not confident they currently had enough staff.

The results highlight the increasing pressure on providers to protect quality and safety while also having to make savings.

Asked whether they were confident their organisation had sufficient staff to meet demand on services, 33 per cent of respondents from NHS providers said they were not. Ten per cent said they did not know if they had sufficient staff, while 57 per cent said they were confident they did.

The survey also found 33 per cent of NHS provider HR directors said they were not involved in the work of their local education and training board.

Unison senior national officer Sara Gorton said: “We understand that financial pressures mean trusts are looking to make savings, but they cannot continue to heap the burden onto staff alone. Significant savings could be made on drug purchasing, reducing waste or by using care pathways to avoid duplication.”

Foundation Trust Network chief executive Chris Hopson said: “We recognise these are organisations that can’t compromise patient safety by having insufficient [staff]. This survey shows NHS providers are facing some really difficult challenges.”

NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles told HSJ: “There is rising pressure on staff as a result of growing demands on many parts of the service, and employers need to balance the pressure of paying most staff significant pay increments against the need to give job security, while delivering a good service and keeping morale high.

“As we approach the upcoming comprehensive spending review, employers will want to strongly emphasise the extreme balancing act we face and that we can’t keep having more staff and higher pay − something has to give.”