HSBC Bank is cutting thousands of operational and IT staff as part of a review into efficiency.

Under an initial move announced today, some 1,200 staff will be cut from back office roles. The cuts affect operations and processing, IT, administration, finance and human resources roles.

HSBC also plans to continue an operational review for the next 12 months, which may result in further cuts.

Union Unite reacted furiously to the news, claiming the figure was actually 2,900 jobs. Derek Simpson, joint general secretary at the union, said: "As if it was not bad enough for staff of HSBC to hear from the media that their jobs are at risk, we now have a situation where the company is failing to come clean with the true extent of these cuts.”

An HSBC spokesperson denied the figure was more than 1,200 staff, but said 2,900 functions were affected as a result of the cuts, natural attrition and the end of some contracted positions. Unite accused it of “using clever accounting to mislead the public and staff about the number of jobs”, saying this was “totally disgraceful”.

Unite said all basic and standard current accounts would now be serviced from India, and this represents some of the cuts.

Paul Thurston, managing director at HSBC, said "there are difficult decisions that have to be made as we adapt to a new environment, and ensure we are positioned for the future”.

Last September, HSBC announced plans to cut five hundred UK jobs at its investment banking division. A large proportion of the cuts are expected to be back office and processing work as well as IT functions. HSBC currently employs around 58,000 people in the UK.

It is also working on a large programme to standardise technology in order to cut costs.