Eight hundred primary care trust staff are likely to lose their jobs in the West Midlands and Greater Manchester, HSJ has learned, heralding the start of a final round of job cuts in the transition to the new NHS structure.

Formal consultations on plans in Greater Manchester PCT cluster and in Birmingham and Solihull and the Black Country clusters are due to begin separately this week.

The Manchester plans affect 400 jobs and the Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country plans affect a further 400.

Jon Restell, chief executive of Managers in Partnership, said although PCTs and strategic health authorities had shed staff over the past two years, as many as 6,000 job cuts could be expected over the coming months.

This is because many clinical commissioning groups and commissioning support services, and the NHS Commissioning Board, are only now calculating how many staff they will be able to afford to employ.

“We’re expecting something big to happen in the next three months because we have still got a system that needs to ‘downsize’,” he said.

HSJ understands that in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country a reduction of 400 posts would represent a 30 per cent cut in the local commissioning workforce.

That proportion is “at the higher end of what we might expect” compared to what could be seen elsewhere, Mr Restell said. This is because some parts of the country, such as London, have cut jobs “harder and earlier” over the past two years compared to Birmingham and the Black Country.

It is expected locally that the Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country CSS will have around 400 staff. Another 500 staff are likely to transfer to council public health teams, the commissioning board, Public Health England, CCGs and NHS Property Services Ltd.

Unions in Greater Manchester were notified of its plans today. Unison head of health for the north west Paul Foley told HSJ the local situation was “chaotic”, as the Greater Manchester CSS has not yet finalised its structure and has not yet had a managing director appointed by the commissioning board.

The 400 job losses will come out of a total cluster workforce of 2,850.