Clustering arrangements for strategic health authorities will see the country divided into the South, the Midlands, London and the North, it has been announced.

A briefing note from a meeting of the NHS Management Board sent to SHA chief executives, said the clusters would provide the “initial footprint” for the NHS Commissioning Board’s commissioning sectors from April 2013 when SHAs are abolished.

In the meantime clusters would continue “to work out of all current SHA offices” and although remote working would be encouraged under the NHS Commissioning Board there would be “offices in many different parts of the country both during the transition and beyond”.

The south cluster will be South Central, South West and South East Coast while the Midlands cluster will see a merger of East and West Midlands and East of England.

As previously announced, London will remain independent while the North West North East and Yorkshire and the Humber will form the fourth cluster.

Yorkshire and the Humber chief executive Bill McCarthy has been leading on the SHA clustering plans and convened a panel including NHS West Midlands boss Ian Cummings to test the proposals.

Under the current plan cluster chief executives, chairs, non-executives and some executive directors will be in post by 3 October 2011.

Existing SHA chairs who are not appointed to the chair of the new cluster will become vice chairs.

The DH would not confirm whether separate recruitment process would be run for posts within the new commissioning sectors.

A spokesman said: “SHA clustering plans are at an early stage and details are still to be finalised.”