Andrew Foster was due to tell the NHS's annual human resources conference that just 21 per cent of organisations hit the DoH key milestone target of transferring at least half of their staff on to the new pay deal by the end of last month.
And he planned to use his keynote speech to the annual HR in the NHS conference in Birmingham to let HR directors know that he was 'disappointed' that only around 200,000 staff had been transferred to the new pay package.
He added that organisations 'owed it to their staff' and to the credibility of HR to 'have substantial completion' of Agenda for Change implementation by December. The use of the phrase 'substantial completion' is the first signal the DoH has relaxed its expectations of full implementation by the autumn, in light of slow progress.
He praised organisations for having 48 per cent of staff matched to new band profiles - but insisted they must now move quickly to catch up with actual transfer of staff to the new payroll.
However, he warned organisations against implementing the pay policy as 'a tick-box project'; they would be 'wasting money' if they did not also focus on 'the benefits realisation side'.
In keeping with the conference's mountain climbing theme, Mr Foster said implementation was only the 'trek' preceding the 'transformational climb' of the pay policy.
He described the challenge for HR to close the time lag between knowing the power of transformational HR and actually making it happen as the ultimate 'Everest' demand on NHS HR professionals.
'We know and have rigorous evidence that transactional HR - such as recruitment efficiencies - can save tens of millions of pounds, for example, and that all HR improvements lead to improved patient care and experience, but do we do them?' he said.
The conference was also due to hear from mountaineer Joe Simpson, whose near- death experience was dramatised in the film Touching the Void.
Delegates were invited to a special screening of the documentary yesterday after a question and answer session with Mr Simpson.
Mr Foster also used his speech to insist there would be no more government imposed workforce targets, in keeping with the wider political shift away from a target-driven approach to the public sector.
Describing the future role of the DoH in the NHS workforce, he said its determination to devolve power would mean 'no more government workforce targets'.