HEE is consulting on plans to cut 41% of its staff across London and the South East from March 2017.
A petition launched against the cuts – which has amassed over 350 signatures out of a target 400 as of publication – warns that the proposals come at a time of ‘national crisis in the recruitment and training of doctors’.
The decision to reduce its workforce could have dire consequences on the recruitment of further doctors, campaigners behind the petition added.
Recruitment of GP trainees has particularly floundered in recent years – repeatedly falling short of targets – although recent figures suggest this trend may be coming to an end.
HEE said that the plans will not impact on patient safety or undermine recruitment of doctors, adding that the move was simply to make services more efficient.
The campaigners said: ‘We believe this represents a denigration of the service for trainee doctors and dentists, and as a consequence a real threat to the NHS and to patient safety. At a time when recruitment of doctors is already suffering due to the government’s health policies, the last thing we need is to undermine it further.
‘These cuts should be stopped completely until the new systems and working patterns have been tested so that informed proposals for safe staffing levels can be made.’
A HEE spokeswoman said: ‘We are currently undertaking a staff consultation on the reorganisation of the administrative function in London and South East.
‘This is very much about effective administration and will not impact in any way on patient safety or undermine recruitment of doctors.
‘We regularly check to ensure that the services that we provide are as efficient as possible, and offer good value for money, whilst continuing to deliver the very highest standards of patient care.’
The petition warned that other HEE areas could also face cuts, but HEE did not confirm whether this was the case.