Following his 10 minute row with pugnacious former Care Quality Commission chair Baroness Young at a Conservative conference fringe event, End Game could have forgiven Jeremy Hunt for going back to a darkened hotel room for a large brandy and a lie down.

But credit where credit’s due, the health secretary was keen to speak following his interrogation in front of 100 amazed onlookers at a fringe session held by thinktank Reform.

Well, he was until we asked our question: were the competition rules currently thwarting the merger of Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and Poole Hospital foundation trusts working as the government intended?

The words had barely left our mouth before Mr Hunt was being dragged away by his special advisor who shouted something about HSJ having been sent answer to this question already.

Was it something we said?                                                         

And, no, we haven’t received anything from the minister’s office on competition rules.

End Game had equally bad luck when trying to get the same question in to Mr Hunt’s undersecretary of state Doctor Dan Poulter.

Barely had the magic word “Bournemouth” left our lips before a delegate barged in front to recite a five-minute poem he had written about the dangers of smoking.