NHS Confederation chair Sir Keith Pearson is to head up the new body being set up to oversee the education of health professionals, it has been announced.

The Department of Health said today that Sir Keith has been appointed chair of Health Education England.

The organisation, set to be established in June, is intended to provide national leadership to the new system of healthcare education and training. It will bring together the roles of current bodies such as Medical Education England.

Sir Keith will take up post as chair of HEE from 28 June when he will step down from the role as chair of the NHS Confederation, which he has held for two years. His appointment will be for four years and he will receive a salary of £55,000 per annum.

Announcing the appointment, health secretary Andrew Lansley said Sir Keith had a “breadth of experience and understanding of health and care professions which perfectly equip him for this challenging role”. 

“Health Education England has strong support for its future role; and our ambitions for achieving excellence through education and training make this a key appointment for the future,” he added.

Sir Keith said: “I’m delighted to have been asked to take on this important role. Health Education England will need to establish itself quickly so that it can take on its new responsibilities later this year. 

“Working with local education and training boards (LETBs), Health Education England must be seen to be progressive and innovative as we prepare the health workforce of tomorrow.”

He added that he was “proud” of what the confederation had achieved during my time with the organisation.

“We have forged closer links with our members, improved the way we develop and deliver our services to provide increased value for money, and secured and strengthened our financial future,” he said.

“I know the NHS Confederation will build on these firm foundations to deliver exceptional support for members in the coming year.”

Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar also paid tribute to Sir Keith’s leadership. He said: “He has been a great asset to the NHS Confederation, which has gone from strength to strength under his leadership.

“It is great to see him taking his expertise to Health Education England to ensure the future health workforce is equipped to deliver high quality care for patients and service users.”

Sir Keith, who received a knighthood for services to healthcare in 2010, has previously been chair of NHS East of England and is also currently the independent chair of the UK Revalidation Programme Board for the General Medical Council.