Mike Farrar is the top strategic health authority chief executive in the HSJ50 this year - a recognition of the pioneering quality work his region continues to push forward.

The amiable Mr Farrar was once tipped as a possible NHS chief executive but seems to have found his niche in the North West, where his collegiate and non-macho style of management has won him many supporters. The rest of the NHS looks to the North West for examples of innovative work in a cohesive, enabling atmosphere - such as its Advancing Quality scheme, and the area’s 10 “touchstone tests” which the public can use to judge progression. At the same time, finances in the region are stable.