Primary care trusts and strategic health authorities will be given a cap to limit the number of managers classed as “business critical” during the NHS reform transition period.

HSJ understands that no more than around 15 per cent of staff per organisation will fit the criteria for the recruitment and exit terms scheme for business critical staff, expected this week from the Department of Health.

The scheme will allow organisations to offer extra payments to employees who may otherwise consider leaving and are needed to implement the coalition government’s reforms.

It would also guarantee employment terms and conditions, including redundancy terms, would stay the same during the handover. After a specified period, managers would be made redundant, transferred to new organisations or redeployed.

HSJ understands the scheme allows employers to decide who may be eligible, although there are broad guidance criteria.

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson wrote in his most recent transition letter last month that the scheme “will support one of our key HR objectives: to sustain business continuity during the transition”.

He said: “It will identify and help to retain those staff who are critical to sustaining such capacity and capability by offering some certainty around severance terms during the transition and on exit.”

During its development the plan was known as the “pre authorised mutually agreed resignation scheme”. An earlier national MARS initiative allowed managers to volunteer to leave in return for up to a year’s pay but offered less generous terms than the NHS redundancy scheme. Some local MARS schemes are still in effect.

The recruitment and exit terms scheme may appeal to managers who can be persuaded to stay with the promise of a guaranteed payment and short term role. It does not guarantee a job at the end of the defined period.