'We have seen a number of years of very significant growth in workforce numbers and it was expected that this would level out when targets were reached, and in many cases, exceeded.
'We recently completed a survey of HR directors which suggested that most reductions in NHS posts are taking place among admin and clerical staff with every effort being made to protect clinical jobs.
'As with other groups of staff, the rate of growth in manager numbers has slowed down in recent years and we also know that managerial posts will be lost this year as a result of the reduction in the number of primary care trusts.'
Gill Morgan, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: 'As a doctor and a former NHS manager, I do find this obsession with managerial numbers baffling. The NHS is, if anything, under-managed, as most politicians and journalists admit in private. The private sector, on average has much higher levels of managerial staff. The NHS deals with over one million patients a day. That level of complexity takes a lot of managing so that doctors and nurses can get on with their job.
'In addition, over 50 per cent of managers have a clinical background. The strange caricatures we see in Casualty and Holby City do not reflect reality. We need a more honest and sophisticated debate about the real challenges facing the NHS and the role of non-clinical staff within the NHS.'