Jo Wass, chief of staff; and Ralph Coulbeck policy adviser, office of NHS chief executive (New entry)

Sir David Nicholson values loyalty highly. His senior executives may bend to political pressure, but he will always have a few capable, influential staff dedicated to him alone. The highly capable Jo Wass is influential in the reshuffle resulting from the SHA abolition, while Mr Coulbeck’s importance grows as Sir David’s team prepares to separate the commissioning board from the DH mother ship.