The NHS Confederation has appointed Michael O’Higgins as its new chair following the departure of Sir Keith Pearson.

Mr O’Higgins, who previously held the same role at the Audit Commission, will take up the part-time role with immediate effect. He will be paid £50,000 for approximately one day a week, although the workload may rise.

The new chair has significant public sector and commercial experience. He currently chairs the Pensions Regulator and sits on the board of the Treasury.

Mr O’Higgins left the Audit Commission in 2012, after six years at the helm, following ministers announcing plans in 2010 to abolish the watchdog.

He said: “I hope to use my role to ensure the NHS Confederation continues to be the trusted voice of the NHS, and to help the service improve care during a period of complex change.”