Steve Barnett’s resignation as the chief executive of the NHS Confederation is a cause for sadness - he is a well-liked man - but it is also an opportunity.

The confederation faces a number of challenges - not least that, with commissioners heading in one direction and providers in another, the question of whether it should exist in the first place.

What would the perfect confed chief executive’s CV look like?

HSJ believes that, despite this fragmentation, it should. The NHS is and should be an integrated system. The organisation is a confederation after all, so should be well placed to lead on the many areas of commonality, while letting the increasingly independent networks push their own lines.

But to do so, it needs to wield more influence and that means recruiting a chief executive with the “right stuff”.So what would the perfect confed chief executive’s CV look like? For a start, he or she should be a senior health service manager, someone who can speak with authority and recent experience about the hard choices facing the NHS.

Next, they must have the respect of ministers, senior Department of Health officials and other leading NHS stakeholders. You do not exercise real influence merely by appearing on the Today programme and giving the health secretary a hard time - though it will no doubt sometimes be necessary. The best interests of the sector will be served by a serious figure whose track record, ideas and relationships command respect in face-to-face meetings.

HSJ’s benchmark for the new confed chief executive would be Peter Homa, chief executive of Nottingham University Hospitals Trust.

It is a comment made without any knowledge about whether Mr Homa would be interested in the position and in the expectation that he is quite happy where he is - but it indicates the type of figure the confed needs to lead it.

Readers might like to post their suggestions for benchmarks and/or actual candidates below.

We need the NHS Confederation – now here’s the sort of leader that it needs