A primary care trust cluster is to write to all 800 members of staff to inform them they are “affected by change”, HSJ has learned.

“Affected by change” status is a precursor to being made formally “at risk” of redundancy but still allows staff to be given prior consideration for other vacancies within the local NHS.

All primary care trusts and strategic health authorities have been encouraged to have discussions with unions about whether staff should be given formal “affected by change status”.

The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire cluster is the first known to be planning to write to staff.

Speaking at a meeting of the cluster board this week, chief executive Deborah Evans said it had been agreed with NHS South of England it was “appropriate” to issue the letters in the next few weeks.

She said making staff “affected by change” would enable them to be given “early support” while uncertainty remained about the future destination of their role. It would also afford them the “opportunity to influence plans through formal consultation at a later stage”.

The wording of the cluster’s letters is still being finalised. They follow correspondence at the end of January, sent to PCT and SHA staff nationwide, informing them of the future destination of their function if known.

The concept of “affected by change” status was introduced last year by the National Social Partnership Forum, which includes representatives from the Department of Health, NHS employers and the unions.

Associate director of strategic human resources for NHS South of England Steven Keith told HSJ organisations had recently been encouraged to revisit the idea and talk to their union and staff side representatives about whether assigning staff “affected by change” status would be helpful.

He said some organisations had informed staff through internal communications such as briefings and newsletters but the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire cluster was the first organisation he was aware of that had chosen to write to all staff.

Chief executive of Managers in Partnership Jon Restell told HSJ the use of “affected by change” was being approached differently across the country.

He said: “This restructure has already cost a lot in redundancy and wasted talent. We want to see maximum redeployment and designating people “affected by change” allows that to happen.

“However, we want to see it done consistently across the country.”