Strategic health authority chiefs have been told they will be abolished by April 2012, HSJ can reveal.

New health secretary Andrew Lansley has told senior managers he believes there will be no need for SHAs once his independent NHS commissioning board is established. He therefore plans to include legislation abolishing the statutory authorities in his NHS bill expected later this year.

Mr Lansley can only abolish SHAs through legislation as they have statutory duties which will require unravelling.

However, sources at SHAs told HSJ they would start “winding down” immediately, not least because they have been given management cost reduction targets in excess of 30 per cent.

The latest NHS workforce statistics show that as of September 2009 there were 3,752 people employed in non-medical roles at SHAs. Senior SHA figures believe not all of them would lose their jobs as there may be scope for some to be absorbed into local GP commissioning consortia or into new regional offices of the independent commissioning board.