David Flory, director general of NHS finance, performance and operations, DH

Mr Flory has never been one for the limelight, preferring to limit his star turns to the Department of Health’s not very glossy or imaginatively entitled quarterly publication, The Quarter, and technical conferences such as those run by the Healthcare Finance Management Association.

But Mr Flory’s remit is sprawling. Although he does not sit on the DH’s board, he is described as having the power to “stop anything” in the department he does not like.

Earlier this year, Mr Flory was thought less of a “no” man and more of a “do” man when his 2008-09 operating framework listed reams of new targets (sorry, “vital signs”) that NHS organisations were expected to meet.

Formerly an NHS chief executive in the North East - latterly at North East strategic health authority - his last step on his way to becoming an NHS superpower was his role as the DH’s trouble shooter for NHS organisations and regions hit by deficits in 2006-07.