The Health Foundation chief executive has seen his organisation’s star rise as its concern with quality improvement and patient safety increasingly chimes with government priorities.

Stephen Thornton has moved safety from being seen as a governance matter to one which is about organisations transforming themselves: he has the ear of NHS chief executive David Nicholson. But he has been swift to point out that quality improvement alone will not drag the government out of its financial mess. Previously chief executive of the NHS Confederation he has had a long career in NHS management.