While there is much debate over the correlation, or lack thereof, between Dr Foster’s mortality risk stats and Care Quality Commission findings, there does appear to be one sure way of predicting trouble at your trust.

And what is this magic prediction method, you ask? The answer: Department of Health acting director general for commissioning and system management Gary Belfield.

He told a PCT Network conference last week he had been treated at the two Essex hospitals at the centre of last week’s headlines.

“I hope it’s not a coincidence or fate or whatever, but I was in hospital last year and I was in Colchester and I had my follow-up at the tertiary centre in Basildon,” he said.

Be warned: if you have a patient called Belfield on your books, watch out for the regulators.