Chief executive, NHS North of England, and managing director of provider development, DH (2010 ranking: 12)

Chivvying the half of hospitals that are not yet foundation trusts across the authorisation finishing line is a big and largely thankless job. Highly respected in hospital management, Mr Dalton is credited with persuading directors at many no-hoper trusts to accept merger.

But getting trusts to commit to becoming an FT over the next five years is one thing, making them actually do it - sacking directors when they do not and dealing with the reconfiguration fallout - is another. given his appointment as head of NHS North of England it may be some of these tasks are left to head of provider delivery Matthew Kershaw.

Together with Bill McCarthy, Dame Ruth Carnall and Jim Easton, Mr Dalton is likely to be one of the foremost health service managers in the new system.