Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people

Name: Claire Perry Job: Director of the project on modernising professional self-regulation for nurses, midwives and health visitors.

Style: Bubbly, 'like Maria from The Sound of Music';

'someone you can never feel down with', and who knows how to party - That is in the social sense.As chair of the New Health Network - described by one senior NHS figure as 'a New Labour front organisation'- she fights shy of Party associations.'I understand people might perceive it to be a well-connected organisation, 'she admits.But she would 'work with any government keen on developing services to patients'.

Background: Rejected for secretarial work due to poor spelling, so went on to A-levels, a degree and an NHS work placement.Went to Guy's, then Lewisham health authority, ending up as operations director.Became business manager at Lewisham and North Southwark HA in 1987, dealing with early contracts, just as the internal market came in.She 'thought it was the answer for the health service'at the time.But dog-eat-dog competition between trusts didn't appeal.Became chief executive at Bromley HA in 1993, taking up her current post in 1999.'It surprised us all, 'says one observer.'My eyes used to glaze over at professional self-regulation, 'she admits.But she is 'open-minded'about career moves.Has enough hobbies to keep all the von Trapp kids busy - and really does organise 26-strong family mountain walking holidays.

Future prospects: Contract ends this year, so she could take on a trust near you or a post-election quango.The New Health Network will be even newer by then.Austrian nanny agencies may be out of luck.