THE TOP FIVE
Lord Darzi, 48 IMPERIAL COLLEGE, CHIEF OF SURGERY; HEALTH MINISTER A testing year for the man chosen by Gordon Brown to bring his vision of a modern NHS to the public. His plans to turn GP practices into "supersurgeries" have been attacked by the British Medical Association, who threatened mass walk-outs, and another low point was being savaged by Today presenter John Humphrys over NHS reforms. This pioneering surgeon managed to hold onto his job and pressed ahead with major reforms including better care standards for patients. And there is no doubt over his medical skills he saved the life of Lord Brennan, who suffered a heart seizure after a House of Lords debate.
Alan Johnson, 58 SECRETARY OF STATE FOR HEALTH The mark of his success has been keeping his department out of the headlines. The row over top-up payments for cancer patients took him by surprise but he scored a major victory over the BMA on extended hours. His killer instinct is masked by a quiet charm and user-friendly manner. Usually manages to lighten speeches on the more turgid aspects of health policy with humour. Still has a way to go convincing the public about key aspects of health reform including their right to choice. But as an experienced cog in the Labour machine, Johnson could find himself with a new Cabinet post in the event of a reshuffle.
See also Politics
Niall Dickson, 54 THE KING'S FUND, HEAD A former BBC health correspondent and social affairs editor, this exjournalist is a highly regarded policy expert who has the ear of all the major health bodies in London. Recent expos?s by The King's Fund include delays for hip and knee patients, concerns over polyclinics and the Government's failure to ensure foundation hospitals are more accountable. Has also questioned the wisdom of the Department of Health's decision to set up a special patients' charter. But he does support Government plans to award bonuses to top-performing hospitals.
Prof Sir Michael Rawlins, 67 NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE (NICE), CHAIR Hardly a week goes by without Nice appearing in the headlines. Patients even staged a protest outside its central London offices over a block on renal cancer drugs Nice approves what drugs NHS trusts spend their money on. Rawlins is hugely experienced scientist who is unafraid of controversy. Recently criticised ministers for taking too long to refer products to Nice. A clinical pharmacologist, Rawlins also chairs the Government's drugs advisory panel. Lives in Northumberland and golf is his main hobby.
Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, 53 DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, MEDICAL DIRECTOR One of the UK's most eminent heart surgeons and president of the Society for Cardiothoracic Surgery. As a civil servant he has a key role within the DoH in challenging the secrecy that persists in the NHS. He was behind the publication of hospital mortality rates the first time this has happened anywhere in world. Despite his grand CV, Keogh is unstuffy, impeccably polite and has an impish sense of humour..
Sir Ian Kennedy, 66 HEALTHCARE COMMISSION, CHAIR Sir Ian "runs the NHS", in the words of former health secretary Alan Milburn. Started life as a lawyer, then turned to medicine. He is scathing about failings in maternity care, saying recently "I don't want to be at the wrong end of another investigation report describing the deaths of babies or mothers". Exposed a secret and arrogant culture among doctors carrying out heart surgery on children.
Greg Beales, 31 SPECIAL ADVISOR ON HEALTH TO THE PM Despite his portly appearance, Beales is a supporter of healthy lifestyle initiatives including Healthy Living Centres.
Tackling superbugs has also been top of his agenda over the past 12 months. Has a reputation as a fan of GP practice-based commissioning, which indicates the Prime Minister may increase use of the private sector in providing health treatments. …