Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people No.74

Published: 20/06/2002, Volume II2, No.5810 Page 10

Name: John Ransford

Job: Director of education and social policy, Local Government Association

Style: Passionate believer in local government.

Tough operator seen as an 'effective backroom lobbyist'.Described as 'bright' and 'sharp'.After a meteoric rise early in his local government career was seen as 'brimming with confidence - so much It is painful'.Had a 'successful record'with the LGA's social affairs, health and housing brief and can take some credit for the government's retreat over compulsory care trusts.Always calls back, and has the most diligently up-to-date voicemail messages in the business.

Background: Started off as a probation officer in south-east London in the 1970s, moving to Kirklees council as a training officer in the social services department in 1974.Rose rapidly through the ranks to become director of social services - one of the youngest in the country - by 1981.

Stayed for five years, followed by a six-month stint in the chief exec's chair.Moved to North Yorkshire as social services director in 1988, stepping up to chief exec five years later.

Switched to the LGA in 1999, originally on secondment, then became head of social affairs, health and housing.Was seen as one of the winners when the LGA restructured early this year, when he secured his current post.

Future prospects: Going into battle against the idea of hospitals charging social services departments for bed-blocking - the LGA and the NHS Confederation are working on alternative proposals.Watch this space.A very, very brave government might appoint him as a straight-talking adviser, but do not hold your breath.