The NHS Confederation has been forced to clarify its position on strategic health authorities after one of its senior policy managers last week called for a major rethink of their role under a new regulatory regime.

In a letter in to HSJ, NHS Confederation acting chief executive Steve Barnett insists SHAs will continue to play a central role in the NHS, even after the Care Quality Commission launches in April.

Last week, confederation senior policy manager Frances Blunden told HSJ of concerns that the CQC's enforcement powers would increase duplication between it and SHAs. "If we have the CQC, and that becomes robust… one has to question why we need the SHA role."

But Mr Barnett writes: "Let me be clear… we do not believe that they will become redundant." He says there is potential for "overlap and duplication in data collection" but insists "this has no implications for their long-term survival".

The confederation has not had a permanent chief executive since May as it has struggled to find suitable candidates.