Published: 05/12/2002, Volume112 No. 5834 Page 15 16

Name: Sir William Wells Job: Chair, NHS Appointments Commission Style: Establishment to the core.To admirers, he's an 'amiable'old school gent who knows exactly what to do with his cutlery.But Sir William has been ruffling feathers of late, particularly in primary care.'Arrogant', says one source, who accuses him of 'mistaking conference delegates for the third form at a rather good school'.Describes himself as 'honest'and 'not afraid of a very frank exchange'.

Background: After a business career, Sir William is now president of international property consultants Chesterton.And he has been on the board of almost every type of NHS body that has existed in London since 1968. In 1994, he was South Thames regional health authority chair under the Conservatives.But last year they accusing him of having 'utterly compromised'his impartiality as South East regional office chair by asking trust chairs to meet 'our [Labour's] manifesto commitment'on waiting lists.Weeks later, Sir William, who claims 'no interest in party politics', was appointed to his current post, with responsibility for non-exec appointments and, later, franchising.This year, he stirred up trouble once more with proposals to halve the minimum time commitment for non-execs, angering the NHS Alliance in particular.But Sir William says he has received many letters in favour of the idea, which is designed to bring in more working people, and says 'It is always people who are against things that make the most noise'.

Future prospects: his first term at the commission runs out in March, but Sir William, sounds as if he is hoping for a second slot when he insists 'we have a whole lot more to do'.