Sir Christopher Edwards has been appointed as chairman of NHS Medical Education England.

The role will involve briefing ministers on the numbers of doctors, dentists, pharmacists and medical scientists likely to be needed in the future, and overseeing their education and training.

Sir Christopher is chairman of Chelsea and Westminster foundation trust and was the first head of Imperial College School of Medicine.

Formerly, he has been vice chancellor of Newcastle University, president of the Association of Physicians of Great Britain and Ireland and chairman of the Council of Heads of Medical Schools.

Complex problems

He said: "This is a crucial role at a very important time for the future of medical education and training. It is not going to be easy.

"While there is great goodwill involved, some of the problems we face are very complicated.

"But the establishment of NHSMEE offers everyone involved a real opportunity to solve some long-standing issues in the interests not only of staff, but ultimately of NHS patients."

For the past 18 months, Sir Christopher's role has been carried out by the Modernising Medical Careers programme board, which will now be integrated into NHSMEE.

NHS Medical Education England

NHSMEE was first suggested by Professor Sir John Tooke in his report into the problems experienced in recruiting junior doctors in 2007.

Detailed proposals were then set out this June in the next stage review.

The majority of NHSMEE members have been nominated by external organisations such as the Royal Colleges of Medicine, the British Medical Association and NHS organisations.

NHS Medical Director Sir Bruce Keogh said: "The establishment of NHS Medical Education England is a great opportunity for the Department of Health, doctors, dentists, pharmacists and scientists to work together to tackle some complex and important issues around professional training and workforce needs in a rapidly evolving NHS.

"Sir Christopher has an excellent track record in a distinguished medical and academic career. I look forward to working with him and with other members of NHSMEE to plan the best possible NHS workforce for the future."