Drip, drip, drip. No, not the sound of a hospital “deep clean” in action, but the horror-on-horror, day-by-day reporting in the run-up to and wake of the publication of Dr Foster’s annual Hospital Guide.

First the details of blood-spattered wards and mouldy equipment at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Then Colchester’s chair is sacked. Next some mudslinging about who is to blame, then time for some details on more trusts with higher than average death rates, along with more innuendo than we needed about managers’ personal lives.

The Conservatives called for a “massive overhaul” of the inspection regime

The Daily Telegraph reported that Dr Foster’s figures “cast further doubt on Labour’s flagship hospitals policy” because three of the worst 12 are foundation trusts. The Conservatives called for a “massive overhaul” of the inspection regime, with shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley quoted in The Times saying: “It is no good having regulators stuck behind their desks shifting paper.” The CQC defended itself, with its chair Baroness Young reported in The Independent saying some of the Dr Foster data was “legitimate” but some was “quite alarmist”.

In the Daily Mail, columnist Melanie Phillips went for anyone and everyone involved. “The mania for regulation has resulted in empire building… not only have frontline staff found their independence undermined by distant paper-pushers, but many themselves have jumped on the bureaucratic gravy train by becoming NHS managers.”

Online, where interaction is all, the Bolton News let readers decide. A commendable attempt to give a simple explanation of what standardised mortality rates are, and why its local trust had come out so badly, was accompanied by an online poll: “Do you think the Dr Foster findings are fair?” Sadly, we’ll have to wait until the poll closes for the public’s conclusions.