Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 06/02/2003, Volume II3, No. 5841 Page 20 21

Name: Sharon Grant

Job: Chair of the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health.

Style: Champion of 'people who are not listened to'.Definitely well to the Left of New Labour.A plain-speaking woman with a strong personality - an enemy of waffle.Perhaps unsurprisingly, she is 'not known to suffer fools gladly'.Much of her past work and interests centre on encouraging community involvement and engagement.

Background: She was a social policy lecturer when she met and married London borough of Haringey council leader Bernie Grant.When her husband was elected MP for Tottenham, she became his parliamentary secretary.They were married for 13 years until Mr Grant's death in April 2000.Went on to establish the Bernie Grant trust to foster leadership in black and minority communities.

Future prospects: Already had one noisy run-in with New Labour when she stood against shiny loyalist David Lammy as prospective Labour candidate for her husband's old seat.She lost and Mr Lammy is now a junior health minister; so look out for fireworks.People who know her say she will be only too happy to mix it with Department of Health ministers and mandarins in CPPIH's fight to become the patients' champion.CPPIH's budget and resources are still being ironed out with the Department of Health, so health secretary Alan Milburn might do well to expect a few assertive knocks on his door if there are any problems in delivering what she describes as the 'uncompromised voice of the patient'.One acquaintance warns: 'People who have any dealings with her do not come out thinking they have had an easy ride.'