The plans, described in a review by Monitor, are intended to reconcile the demands of the Keogh review with the continuing austerity drive.
The economic regulator has commented that the expectation of shedding so many staff without suffering a loss in service quality is not realistic.
The 145 Foundation Trusts in England plan to cut their costs by losing 30,000 staff, including 4% of nurses, between 2014 and 2016.
However, in response to Sir Bruce Keogh’s recent review, which identified shortage of clinical staff as the leading cause of avoidable deaths in hospitals, the FTs plan to take on 10,000 additional staff in the coming year, including 1134 consultants, 1273 junior doctors and 4133 nurses.
Monitor describes the recruitment plan as a “short-term fix” to the problems of increasing waiting times, rising hospital mortality rates and declining care quality.
The regulator noted that it would be “challenging” to follow this by cutting a much greater number of employees, even if many of the redundancies were among non-clinical staff.
Also, it said, the FTs’ profit forecasts for 2014–15 and 2015–16 “appear optimistic”, especially given that trusts have “a weak record” of sustainably reducing staff numbers.
A further sign of the financial strain on FTs was that a third of them predicted they would fail to reduce the incidence of C. difficile infections in 2013–14.
Stephen Hay, Managing Director of Provider Regulation at Monitor, said it would “enhance its scrutiny of high-risk areas to enable us to take early action if necessary.”