Laura Donnelly interviews the new chief executive of North East SHA

'People might say I'm cool and calculating. I'm not. I am very private and I don't chase the publicity, but that's all.'

David Flory appears to be the most reserved of the SHA leaders, but the suggestion that people might find him a bit frosty comes from him, not me.

He joined the NHS in 1991 with a background as an accountant, working in local government and consultancy. 'I joined when a lot of people with a finance background were being recruited.'

He started at Northern regional health authority and spent eight years working as a finance director, with a growing portfolio encompassing performance and planning.

When its regional director Professor Sir Liam Donaldson became chief medical officer, he became acting director, and in 1999, chief executive of Newcastle and North Tyneside health authority. Shifting the Balance of Power saw him heading Northumberland, Tyne and Wear SHA, and in August last year he also took on County Durham and Tees Valley SHA.

He is also the Department of Health's interim director of

recovery across the NHS,

looking at the finance trouble-spots: Surrey and Sussex; Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire;

and Bedfordshire and Herts.

For Mr Flory, the key to a good leader is transparency and clarity. Asked about his own personal management style, he reverts often to talking about what an organisation and a team should look like: 'For a headquarters organisation, one of the things that is incumbent on us is to be clear with NHS organisations about what success looks like. Not necessarily in an authoritarian way, but we have to be clear. And if there problems we have to deal with them head on. We have to support people when they are doing well, but it's important not to have things too cosy.'

Running the new organisation will require many of the skills of the old order ? and more on top. Hitting targets and achieving financial balance is just the start. 'These things will continue to be absolutely necessary but they are not sufficient.' Reforming systems will mean putting commissioning at the front of the agenda.

His new role is both 'a privilege and a responsibility'. Some of it won't be easy, but he is 'optimistic' that across the health economy roles can be found which will make use of most of the skills lost from current organisations.

But Mr Flory adds: 'My first priority is to do the best for patients, second to do the best for staff. It's unashamedly in that order.'