The Royal College of Nursing has said it fears a financial crisis in parts of the NHS may lead to further job losses.
The reductions will affect all areas of the workforce
This follows the announcement that a hospital trust in Staffordshire plans to cut one job in seven as managers try to reduce debts of £17m.
It is thought three quarters of the redundancies at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire in Stoke-on-Trent could be compulsory.
The trust is to cut its 7,000-strong staff by the equivalent of 1,000 posts.
An estimated 370 of the posts will be nurses and midwives.
Dr Beverly Malone, of the Royal College of Nursing, told BBC News: "We've seen a steady creep of these types of issues, from the freezing of posts to now we are actually talking about redundancies.
"This could happen at any of the hospitals and trusts that are having deficits and, as we know, there's a number of them that are in deficit."
The Department of Health said it was reassured services would not be cut in the Staffordshire hospital.
The job cuts there are in addition to strict controls on recruitment to vacant posts and invitations for expressions of interest from staff over voluntary redundancies, early retirement and reduced working hours.
The chief executive of the University Hospital of North Staffordshire, Anthony Sumara, said: "We hope once this most difficult part of the changes is completed the vast majority of staff who remain can begin to feel more secure and confident in the future."
The total shortfall for the NHS in England this year is expected to be more than double last year's at £620m.
This has been caused partly by more expensive drugs but mostly by a big increase in staff pay, the cost of which the government admits it underestimated.