The first major regional workforce proposals published since the next stage review appear to confirm the strong role given to strategic health authorities.

NHS North East is creating a new regional-level organisation called NHS Education North East.

It will produce a regional workforce plan, an education and training commissioning plan, oversee training quality management and co-ordinate research and innovation.

Employers were alarmed by parts of Lord Darzi's strategy, particularly that primary care trusts would submit plans to SHAs to be merged into single regional strategies.

Strategic planning

A board document approved by the SHA in July said NHS Education North East "must provide employers with real influence to develop their workforce in line with their strategic plans". It should also "reflect that the SHA [is] accountable to the Department of Health for effective regional workforce planning, commissioning of education and training and quality assurance of education delivery".

NHS North East workforce director Moira Livingston said: "We want to engage employers much more in what we commission."

However, she added: "I think the next stage review has reinforced the SHA's place both in management and quality assurance."

Details of how the new body will function are being developed.