When we appointed Gill Morgan as chief executive of the NHS Confederation, we knew we were recruiting a very competent person - but we had no idea how widely valued and supremely effective she would become, writes Dianne Jeffrey

Promising to speak out clearly on behalf of the management community about the values and successes of the NHS, to articulate clearly the challenges facing the service, and to engage ministers through constructive and helpful dialogue, she strongly impressed the interview panel.

Since then, the confederation has gone from strength to strength, with its networks and priority work programmes, to the extent that it is hard now to imagine the NHS without its distinctive leadership voice. For confederation trustees Gill's appointment was a pure success story - a chocolate box which did what it said on the tin and more, then left a sweet taste.

Dianne M Jeffrey, chair, NHS Confederation (2000-03)