Chair, British Medical Association council (2010 ranking: 3)

The most critical negotiations on the Health Bill are over and, to the horror of many BMA members, attempts to scrap it wholesale have almost certainly failed.

Hamish Meldrum has dropped seven places, largely because he steps down in June but also because the focus has shifted onto financial pressures and practicalities of implementing the reforms.

Those who criticise Dr Meldrum for not being robust enough in opposing the reforms underestimate the skill with which he has picked his battles as he pursued “critical engagement”. Crucially he persuaded an angry BMA not to oppose the bill in its entirety - a move he understood would kill off any chance it had of influencing the legislation.

Dr Meldrum has chaired the BMA council for four years, pulling together the often competing interests of GPs, specialists and junior doctors. It could be that the Bridlington GP’s most ferocious battle in 2012 will be over his members’ pensions - perhaps the only subject that can unite them all.