Two pages of the NHS plan are given over to a collection of signatures from the great and the good. HSJ asked a handwriting expert to tell us what they revealed.

Erik Rees, chair of the British Institute of Graphologists, says: 'Every surgeon learns to cut and suture in the same way but every scar is distinctive - their colleagues can tell which surgeon made it. Just as we all learn to write the same way but our handwriting is different.' The verdicts:

Stephen Thornton, chief executive, NHS Confederation Intense, tough and expedient, according to Mr Rees.Creative, but his ideas 'are all rooted in reality'. Will always call an aluminium earthmoving device a spade. 'He is one of those who can enjoy the good things in life and relax, unlike many of the people on the list.'

Dr Ian Bogle, chair of council, British Medical Association Very careful about who he trusts. Very ambitious, meticulous and can be a tough negotiator. He 'really enjoys the cut and thrust of it all but if his mother called him up she would have to prove who she was before he'd take the call'.

Professor Sir George Alberti, president, Royal College of Physicians of London A 'modest man', efficient and keeps his feelings very much in check. Has a strong sense of responsibility and can become dedicated to an issue. 'Very trustworthy.'

Barry Jackson, president, Royal College of Surgeons of England Someone who 'underrates himself ' yet has great creativity. Very quick thinking: 'by the time you have worked out where he stands he is already somewhere else'. A 'bit of a terrier' who never lets go of an issue until it is resolved.

Dr Jenny Simpson, chief executive, British Association of Medical Managers Enjoys debate and will argue her case strongly and successfully. Capable of playing both sides against the other - can give as good as she gets and 'must not be underestimated.' Apparently 'the sort of woman who can run rings round men'.

Christine Hancock, general secretary, Royal College of Nursing A 'forceful and tough' person who 'can play as hard as she works'. Someone who 'is always looking to come out on top' .Ms Hancock is direct and will usually 'achieve her aims'.

Rabbi Julia Neuberger, chief executive, King's Fund Modest in her outlook.Rapid-thinking and highly intelligent, with deep feelings: 'Very, very principled, sensitive to atmosphere and the reaction of those around her.'

Dr Michael Dixon, chair, NHS Alliance A very political animal who is 'evasive and hard to pin down'.Clever and charming, but beware: 'He is able to say what you want to hear - a very astute man.'

Bob Abberley, head ofhealth, Unison Mr Abberley is ambitious and can skilfully turn a situation to his advantage. Never relaxes: 'I would be surprised if he knew how.'

Dr Peter Smith, chair, National Association of Primary Care A 'very straightforward man with a keen mind and no-nonsense outlook'. Dr Smith is very able and strongly independent. Mr Rees reckons 'I would trust his judgement'.

Alan Milburn The health secretary is said to be 'overworking such a lot he is beginning to become compulsive'.

Apparently this is a guy who can't say no: 'Either he takes on too much or has too much foisted on him.'

Tired out, perhaps, by producing the plan, 'his batteries need recharging'. Mr Milburn 'wants to be needed' but is not able to follow his own timetable: 'His strings are being pulled'. But reassuringly for Mr Milburn he is 'brighter than our prime minister'.

And last but not least. . .

Tony Blair Is sincere, 'a very nice, decent person'. But Mr Blair is said to be 'so keen to get where he is going he is rather blinkered and not aware of what is going on behind him'. A 'superficial' man, his actions are often precipitate: 'His enthusiasm gets the better of him, he does things before they are worked through.' Very observant and aware of people's reactions, 'once he gets their attention, he plays to the gallery'. The prime minister expects people to stand on their own feet: 'He does not look after his charges, he would think that was nursemaiding them. He thinks people have to sink or swim on their own merits.'

Contact Erik Rees at