Our weekly guide e to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 24/01/2002, Volume II2, No. 5789 Page 20 21

Name: Professor Ron de Witt

Job: Chief executive, North West London SHA

Style: 'Glass shelving, designer lighting and modern gas fires'.Yes, It is the man who 'thinks he's Lord Irvine'.As chief exec at King's Healthcare trust he splashed£25,000 on doing up his office - It is 'rather smart'now, observers say.A£2.7m overspend during 2000-01 was purely on clinical areas, apparently, and nothing to do with£79,000-worth of glass shelves etc at the new management offices.This topped his£73,000 furniture spend at Leeds HA.An inquiry after the King's splurge found he had done no wrong, so decorators in the north west London area have something to look forward to.Preventing Lambeth CHC from making a statutory unannounced visit wasn't popular either.

But he's also described as 'one of the country's most successful nurses', a three-star trust manager who has seen reality on the wards and 'got his hands dirty'.

Background: Born in Canada, he started as a psychiatry nurse at Winnipeg Children's Hospital and has worked in burns, surgery and medicine.

Moved to New Zealand in 1976, rising through nursing and management to become chief nurse at Auckland regional health board and chief exec at Auckland Hospital.Took the top job at Royal Hull Hospitals trust in 1991, then went to Leeds HA in 1996 before King's snapped him up in 1999.He became chair of the English National Board for nursing in 1997 and is a professor in health and education commissioning at Sheffield Hallam Uni.

Shortlisted for the Royal College of Nursing general secretary post, but withdrew.

Future prospects: That nice new office - and the excitement of running an SHA, of course.And There is still time to notch up a few more continents.