Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 30/01/2003, Volume II3, No. 5840 Page 18 19

Name: Michael 'Mike'Sobanja

Job: Chief officer, NHS Alliance

Style: Cuddly, rugby-loving associate of Dr Michael Dixon.Surely few observers of the primary care scene would claim he shows even a passing physical resemblance to Barry Evans, EastEnders 'hapless cuckold and second-hand car dealer.A smart cookie - 'a man you can't win an argument with', says one admiring acquaintance. In meetings, displays an unfailing knack for getting to the heart of the argument without squandering valuable time on debate.Characterises his role as making the 'threelegged stool'of managers, clinicians and public involvement a reality.Says the alliance needs to work 'bloody hard'on minimising the risk of primary care trusts turning into a 'new bureaucracy', shunned by clinicians. Synchronistic professional relationship with the other Michael.M Dixon brings clinical expertise as a GP while M Sobanja knows the 'fearsome'world of management.A career NHS manager until service reorganisation cost him his job as chief executive of Northamptonshire health authority.When not working for the alliance, to be found running a consultancy on 'the interface between pharmaceuticals and the NHS'.

Background: Liverpool born (still an 'exiled Scouser', he says) and a graduate of the NHS management training scheme back in the '70s.

Future prospects: Coming up to five years in as an alliance top bod.Before his untimely departure from Northamptonshire, he thought he would work for the NHS 'for ever'.Since then, he doesn't look forward.do not hold your breath for that merger with the National Association of Primary Care.Mr Sobanja says There is still 'no sign'of alliance members wanting it.