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The 10 most influential outsiders

The non-GPs who will do most to shape the direction of the profession in the coming year.

The non-GPs who will do most to shape the direction of the profession in the coming year.



1 Sir Michael Rawlins

Sir Michael, chair of NICE since its inception in 1999, has spent a decade negotiating his fair share of stormy waters and more surely await him. He has more than 40 years' experience in medicine and was professor of clinical pharmacology at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne from 1973 to 2006. As chair of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs from 1998 until late last year, he presided over the controversial decision to recommend the reclassification of cannabis to class C.

What is in his in-tray

Sir Michael will be a key player in the NICE review of QOF indicators. He will also be working with the Care Quality Commission to ensure its guidance is fully implemented and seek to dramatically speed up appraisals of new drugs. His first task, though, is to keep his job – after 10 years as chair, he must be re-elected, having won a special exception to stand again.

What he says

‘NICE is a 10-day-a-week job. A lot of what we do has been traditionally secondary care-orientated, but this year there are a lot of things that may have an impact on primary care.'

2 Cynthia Bower

The indomitable Baroness Young, chair of the new Care Quality Commission, was the one grabbing the headlines last year, but our panel tips the commission's chief executive Cynthia Bower to show her mettle in 2009. Appointed in July, she used to be director of primary care at Birmingham SHA and chief executive of NHS West Midlands.

What is in her in-tray

The CQC comes into force from April and is pushing to have all GPs under its remit from 2010. She will work with the RCGP to avoid duplication with its practice accreditation plans.

What she says

‘My priority is to get a debate going about standards and quality of care. When things go wrong it is often in the cracks between services and we are uniquely placed to focus on these.'


3 Ben Bradshaw

Ben Bradshaw is minister of state at the DH with responsibility for primary care. He is charismatic, but equally brash and outspoken.

What is in his in-tray

Pay awards, GP-led health centres, the National Programme for IT – Mr Bradshaw has fingers in lot of pies, and will oversee most of Whitehall's interaction with GPs during 2009.

What he says

‘Continuing to respond to what patients want and expect continues to be a critical goal for general practice. Lord Darzi's review of the NHS sets out our ambition for quality in three domains – safety, effectiveness and patient experience.'

4 Gordon Brown

Few Prime Ministers have played such an active role in general practice as this one, with extended hours in particular pushed to the top of the agenda during his early tenure.

What is in his in-tray

Gordon Brown doesn't so much work from an in-tray as decide what's in other people's in-trays. The New Year announcement that patients will be able to rate GPs online on the NHS Choices website may be a flavour of initiatives to come – cheap, populist and designed to stir up competition.


5 Lord Darzi

Surgeon-turned-minister Lord Darzi came to Whitehall as part of Gordon Brown's efforts to recruit a ‘Government of all the talents'. Having led the NHS Next Stage Review, Lord Darzi's name has become synonymous with NHS reforms.

What is in his in-tray

Instead of just critiquing the NHS, in 2009 Lord Darzi will get to implement the changes he has suggested. Expect less talk of polyclinics, and much more about quality and patient outcomes.

6 Mark Britnell

Imposingly titled director general of commissioning and system management at the DH, with a key role overseeing world-class commissioning.

7 Jan Procter-King

Specialist primary care nurse in CHD and tipped to make an impact as recently elected chair of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society.

8 Ben Dyson

Will oversee a raft of Government policy this year in his role as the DH's director of primary care.

9 Sir John Tooke

Led last year's review into the Modernising Medical Careers fiasco and set to exert continued influence as some of his recommendations on training are implemented.

10 Sir Graham Catto

GMC president who in 2009 will oversee the plans for medical revalidation.

Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of NICE Sir Michael Rawlins, chair of NICE Ben Bradshaw, health minister Ben Bradshaw, health minister Our panel

The 13 GPs who helped compile the lists were:
Dr Fay Wilson
Professor Mike Kirby
Dr James Kingsland
Dr Clare Gerada
Professor David Haslam
Dr Kailash Chand
Dr Kathryn Griffith
Dr Gillian Braunold
Dr Michael Dixon
Professor Helen Lester
Professor Mike Pringle
Professor Debbie Sharp
Professor Roger Jones

Lord Ara Darzi, health minister and surgeon Lord Ara Darzi, health minister and surgeon Health minister Ben Bradshaw features in the top 5, but is he number 1?

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