Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 20/03/2003, Volume II3, No. 5847 Page 18 19

Name: Dr John Oldham

Job: Head of the national primary care development team.

Style: Aims to devolve as much work as possible, perhaps unsurprisingly as he still practises two days a week as a GP in Glossop, Derbyshire.He modestly credits much of the achievements of the NPDT to the rest of his team, and those who have worked with him suggest he has a nice line in understatement.GPs serving half of England's population will be involved in the national primary care collaborative by the end of the year, so he must be doing something right.And although not expressly part of its remit, 70 per cent of GP practices taking part in the first phase of the collaborative improved patient access times, pleasing those fighting to meet NHS plan targets.

Background: Unusually for a GP, Dr Oldham possesses an MBA - awarded with distinction from Manchester Business School. Invitations to take part in primary care quality improvement schemes in Sweden and the US followed.While working with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in the US, he was introduced to the collaborative method of working, a system he brought back to this country.He has headed the national primary care development team since its inauguration three years ago.He was made an OBE in 2000.

Future prospects: He is 'very happy where he is'and keen to broaden the NPDT's influence within primary care - which looks likely.He wants to see GPs become 'less possessors and more interpreters of information' in order to stretch the NHS' capacity - something the NPDT has already begun.