Three health secretaries turned up to the farewell bash of outgoing NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar just before Christmas. Jeremy Hunt was joined by Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt – the former two spending at least 20 minutes locked in animated private conversation.

Mr Farrar’s distinguished contribution to the NHS was praised at length by NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson. However, he was horrified that the former SHA chief executive and DH mandarin had paid for the leaving do himself – “a very bad precedent” declared Sir David, who – of course – leaves his post in March.

The highlight of Sir David’s speech was the unveiling of the “Team Farrar” T-shirt apparently worn by North West Strategic Health Authority executives during a team building away day. Resplendently displayed on the front of the T-shirt was a speedo-clad (and younger) Mr Farrar sporting an impressive six pack on some long distant trip to the beach.

The former Confed boss was, of course, a semi-professional sportsman in his younger days – a fact other senior NHS execs should consider before dusting off any holiday snaps for their colleagues’ “appreciation”.