opinion : Our weekly guide to healthcare's most influential people No 28

Name: Ian Carruthers Job: Chief executive, Dorset health authority Style: 'Doyen of NHS managers'.Variously described as 'amiable', 'cuddly', 'sycophantic'and 'smug'.Modernisation board member, taskforce regular and yet another trustee of the - It is OK to yawn - New Health Network.And he's a saint.No, really, he is.In the sense of being a Southampton football club fan.Respected long-serving HA chief with 'the reputation for being a fantastically able manager who comes up with solutions at the forefront of new thinking'- even though the forefront keeps changing.One observer calls this 'blowing with the wind', another mentions the Vicar of Bray.At any rate, has adapted successfully from Tory to Labour regimes.Now a key thinker behind strategic health authorities.

Background: General manager at Plymouth HA in 1986, then at West Dorset from 1987 and East Dorset from 1991, before reaching his current position in 1992.Was briefly seconded as regional director from 1994-95 and is a visiting senior fellow at Birmingham University's health services management centre.Built a reputation for taking the staff with him, avoiding 'macho management', getting on with local GPs and 'always returning phone calls'.Never moved to a trust, to the surprise of some.Keen on complementary medicine - 'I do not know how it works but I do not know how conventional medicine works either.'

Future prospects: Could have gone to regions, but they are being axed.Has 'the credibility'to do Nigel Crisp's job, 'but would he want it?'Expect him to head the Greater Dorset and Southampton SHA.But probably not the one in east London.