NHS East of England chair Keith Pearson has been appointed as the new chair of the NHS Confederation.

He will replace Bryan Stoten and will start on 1 May. His appointment follows an internal review of the confederation and he is expected to take a more “hands on” approach than the outgoing chair.

Mr Pearson’s role will be salaried and he will work an average of three days a week for the organisation. 

Mr Pearson said he saw the role as “a fantastic opportunity to set the right tone by providing strong leadership and scrutiny on behalf of patients, the public and those providing healthcare services across the UK”.

He told HSJ he was planning to provide more of a “public face” to the confederation than the role has previously entailed. He said it would also “clearly” be within his remit to be involved in closed door conversations with the Department of Health and ministers.

But he denied the NHS – with its divide between commissioners and autonomous providers – had now outgrown the confederation.

He said: “The confed should be able to bridge all the interests there are in healthcare.

“The networks themselves will have their own relationships, but the role at the higher level is to tie those together and ensure there is a coherent voice.”

Mr Pearson joins the Confederation after auditors were called in to review a £3.4m venture undertaken by its subsidiary organisation NHS Employers.

NHS Employers – which earns the bulk of its £17.6m annual income from the Department of Health – had been planning to become a subscriptions based membership body and offer human resource services to health service organisations.

But it abandoned those plans last month having gained low uptake from NHS organisations and after the DH decided against automatically renewing NHS Employers’ contract to run the NHS Jobs website.

Mr Pearson said auditors PKF had now submitted their report to the confederation’s trustees.

He said it would not be fair for him to comment until they had considered the report but said: “It’s important we get clarity, then we develop a view of where we go from here.”

He added: “As an organisation the NHS Confederation has gone through a great deal of change in recent years but its core aspiration – to be a centre of excellence for NHS leadership – remains and is one that I share.”