The government has announced the appointment of Strategic Health Authority (SHA) cluster chief executives at NHS North of England, South of England, Midlands and East, and London.

The chief executives are: - Ian Dalton CBE at NHS North of England; - Sir Ian Carruthers at NHS South of England; and - Sir Neil McKay at NHS Midlands and East; while Dame Ruth Carnall continues as chief executive of NHS London.

The SHA cluster chief executives will assume their roles on October 3.

In other appointments, Ian Cumming OBE, currently chief executive of NHS West Midlands and the lead SHA chief on quality, will be taking on a new national leadership role as managing director for quality during the transition. He will lead on key areas of work that include: - maintaining quality and safety during transition; - identifying the quality architecture for the new health care system; and - developing a standardised set of quality metrics.

Candy Morris CBE, currently chief executive of NHS South East Coast, will be taking up a new national leadership role as the Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the establishment of the Health Research Authority. She will also support Sir Ian Carruthers, once in post as chief executive of the South of England SHA cluster, in leading specific work across the south of England.

The Department of Health also notes that Andrea Young, currently chief executive of NHS South Central, has expressed her intention to play a significant role in the South of England cluster, whilst supporting the establishment and successful operation of the NHS Commissioning Board post-2013.

A number of new SROs have also been appointed to lead the establishment of the new national bodies during the transition and until chief executives are appointed or become able to take up their posts.

They include: - Bill McCarthy, who becomes managing director responsible for setting up the NHS Commissioning Board; - Ian Dalton, who will continue as SRO for establishing the NHS Trust Development Authority and will continue to lead the Foundation Trust pipeline work nationally, alongside his SHA cluster role. However, now that he is taking up his new role in the North, Richard Douglas will become SRO for the development of the new system of economic regulation; - Katie Davis, who recently moved from the Cabinet Office to become Chief Information Officer for Health at the Department, becomes SRO for the establishment of an informatics solution; and - Anita Marsland becomes managing director for public health transition.

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson said that these key senior appointments "will put us in the best position to manage the transition through to April 2012, ensuring quality and safety for our patients."

"Managing transition is about keeping a tight grip on today's service performance, finances and delivery, whilst simultaneously putting in place tomorrow's new world architecture," said Sir David, adding: "by putting the current regional arrangements on the same initial footprint as the NHS Commissioning Board and potentially other new organisations, the SHA clusters form an important step in the journey to the new system."