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2 – Sir David Nicholson

The only person in our list to have a ‘challenge' named after him, the chief executive of the NHS, who has held the role since 2006, has shown an impressive degree of resilience.

Widely viewed as a new Labour apparatchik, many expected the straight-talking Sir David to be shunted aside when the coalition came into power.

But not only has he survived, he has also been handed two of the most crucial roles in driving forward the changes – firstly, as the man in charge of overseeing the NHS's £20bn programme of efficiency savings (dubbed ‘The Nicholson Challenge') and secondly as chief executive of the new NHS Commissioning Board.

This list appears as part of the top influential non-GPs 2011. To see the rest of the list, and the top 50 GPs, click here.