General secretary and chief executive, Royal College of Nursing ▲2

From calling for heroin “shooting galleries” to involving the college in a debate about assisted suicide, RCN general secretary and chief executive Peter Carter rarely sits on the fence, despite his college’s moderate image.

However, the former psychiatric nurse and NHS manager continues to balance his instinct for a media friendly soundbite with a conciliatory approach that has built the union’s reputation in policy circles.

The college has a huge battle on its hands to ensure NHS staff are not seen as easy targets for cuts. And it still needs to decide whether to extend full membership rights to healthcare assistants - a decision with deep repercussions for its identity, not to mention its finances.

But making the case for nurses in an era set to be dominated by talk of medical leadership will arguably be Mr Carter’s most significant challenge to date. Securing his profession’s place in a system where GPs rule much of the roost is the key outcome.