Shifting sands in the 2016 HSJ 100

The Health Service Journal has released its annual list of the one hundred most powerful people in healthcare, and this year’s piece of detailed Kremlinology has not disappointed.

Jeremy Hunt’s victory over the British Medical Association has been reflected in his second place ranking, with Dr Mark Porter sliding thirteen places from his position in 2014. Simon Stevens appears to be secure despite the recent change of government. His first place ranking solidifies the security of his front-rank position; both the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Cabinet Secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, clearly still see Stevens as the best person for the job.

The Prime Minister’s co-chief of staff, Nick Timothy, is the most significant new entrant. Theresa May and her team arrived in Downing Street with very little previous experience in – or any particularly strong interest in – health matters. Timothy, probably the most influential person in Government behind the Prime Minister, has been a prolific commentator on social affairs and education, and he comes from an education policy background. He has not shown any interest in health but he will, however, want to take a keen interest in any new health policy initiatives. At the very least, nothing is announced by the new Government without a sign-off from either Timothy or his colleague, Fiona Hill, who is omitted from the list due to her focus on media work. Timothy’s place in the list testifies to the amount of power May is happy to delegate to her policy chief.

Jon Rouse shoots up a huge thirty one places from last year. Rouse is poised to begin leading the Greater Manchester health and social care devolution agenda, a job for which he has been preparing for months. His influence will only increase with the exit of the most powerful unelected individual in Greater Manchester, Sir Howard Bernstein. Rouse left his post as director general for social care, local government and care partnerships at the Department of Health in March, and will be one to watch in the coming years.

Tamara Finkelstein, sister of Times columnist Lord Finkelstein, makes her first appearance. Finkelstein was previously Chief Operating Officer and Director General for Group Operations at the Department of Health, and has now taken an overarching role as Director General for Community Care. The position has been widened as part of the streamlining of the department, leaving Finkelstein in charge of such key issues as seven day services, digital and data policy, and social care.

Finally, a word on the opposition. There are only two Labour figures, and neither are from Labour’s health team. Meg Hillier makes her first appearance having taken over the chairmanship of the powerful Public Accounts Committee, and Andy Burnham, previously a stalwart of the HSJ’s list, makes an appearance near the bottom as the presumptive first elected Mayor of Greater Manchester, a role in which he will have plenty of influence on the direction of the devolution process.

Tom Williams, Senior Account Executive

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