The news that some of the health service’s most poorly paid staff get an “overly generous” deal while on sick leave during the recession was the focus of the media spotlight in some quarters this week.

The Daily Telegraph spluttered that health workers - including nurses, midwives, paramedics and porters - were being “given millions of pounds in overtime when they were absent”.

The week was also characterised by good news and bad news for the Conservative leader David Cameron

The apparent root of the problem is that, under Agenda for Change, NHS staff on sick leave are paid an average of their pay for the last three months, which is calculated to include additional payments such as overtime.

The Telegraph quoted John O’Sullivan, a private sector occupational health consultant, who described the situation as “morally and ethically wrong”.

The fact that the sick pay arrangements have been in place for nearly five years now seemed to have eluded hacks at the paper.

The week was also characterised by good news and bad news for the Conservative leader David Cameron. It was essentially the tale of two surveys.

A poll in The Independent on Sunday suggested the public was now more trustful of the Tories as future stewards of the NHS. It found that 47 per cent of respondents disagreed with the statement that “the NHS would be safer under Labour than the Conservatives”.

But another poll, published the following day for private health firm BMI Healthcare, suggested Mr Cameron will first face trouble getting his own party “on message” over the NHS.

The Independent reported that 62 per cent of Tory MPs surveyed disagreed with Mr Cameron’s plan to provide the NHS with guaranteed spending increases next year, while the Mirror found that two thirds also wanted tax breaks for patients who go private.