Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Published: 11/07/2002, Volume II2, No.5813 Page 9

Name: Harry Cayton

Job: Director for patient experience and public involvement - 'the silliest job title in the NHS'

Style: NOT the patients' czar - 'I am the patients' Rasputin, 'he jokes.But he doesn't much like the P-word with its overtones of waiting either.'If we could abolish the word 'patient'it would be enormously helpful.'An advisor who is proud of his independence.On loan for two days a week from the Alzheimer's Society, he is a refreshing break from on-message pager addicts and Millbank clones.Has been a trenchant critic of the government's refusal to fund free residential as well as nursing care for elderly people.And he has had a crack at the National Institute for Clinical Excellence too - all that and still a member of the Modernisation Board and an OBE to boot.A veteran of many a committee and advisory panel, he has some street cred in the patients' rights world.Seems quiet but 'comes alive on stage', says one observer.'is not he lovely?'says everyone else.

Background: No slouch, he's got degrees in English and linguistics, anthropology and philosophy of education.Has a professional background in social work and special needs.

Became director of the National Deaf Children's Society in 1982, leaving in 1991 to take the helm at the Alzheimer's Society.

Future prospects: Making sure something patients and the public actually want emerges from the two tortuous years of wrangling over the abolition of community health councils.And all with 'no tool except my independence, consistency on behalf of patients and the public - and the poisoned chalice!'