Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 24/04/2003, Volume II3, No. 5825 Page 16 17

Name: Dr Andrew McCulloch

Job: Chief executive, Mental Health Foundation

Style: 'A very good analytical thinker'and 'smooth operator with a good network', say former colleagues.His civil service background and 'quiet intellectualism' is already yielding close relationships with government - a key role for a research-based charity that has had a low profile.

His aim of making MHF 'thoughtful but vigorous' is also a good character description.

Background: The Department of Health's top mental health expert during the fallout from the Zito inquiry (helping design the Mental Health Act in the early '80s was his first major job there), he left in 1996 to join the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health as policy officer.Took up his current post in September 2002.Dr McCulloch is also the only male member of the government's women's mental health strategy taskforce and the voluntary sector's representative on the workforce numbers advisory board.

Future prospects: An important year, with (delayed) legislation forthcoming which will determine fundamental attitudes to mental health.One observer says the challenge will be to 'focus a small organisation with a lot to do'. It is not a representative body, but neither is it purely a research or lobbying group.And it needs to raise its profile - the appointment of a new R&D director (from Mori) and plans for a policy officer suggest a move in this direction.He is vocal on the tricky subject of recruiting more psychiatrists - he favours more complex community services rather than (vainly) trying to up the numbers.

Another focus is the 'crap deal'older people with mental health problems get.