General secretary, TUC (New entry)

Mr Barber bursts into the HSJ100, as the strike over pensions starkly shows the mounting importance of industrial relations in the NHS. As the unions’ joint chief negotiator on pensions, the TUC leader must represent the workforce’s anger while seeking a settlement with the government that kills the dispute.

Calm, pragmatic and personable, Mr Barber plays well with media and public alike; coalition ministers listen to him; and he has very close ties to the highly unionised health world. Critically, union leaders across the political spectrum trust his judgement. As one general secretary says: “Brendan’s a consummate fixer who repeatedly digs all sides out of holes.”

Besides pensions, plenty of fires will need extinguishing in the coming year. The NHS will see a lot of him.