‘Andrew Lansley on the other hand has a real problem. It’s the same one that Chris Smith and Frank Dobson had back in 1997. Like them, Andrew doesn’t have a health policy, because he is using his opponent’s one.’

To: Don Wise, chief executive

From: Paul Servant, assistant chief executive

RE: Andy Burnsley

I went to the party conferences this year and am none the wiser about what’s going to happen to the NHS in the next few years - or who is going to be running it.

If we are to judge the key priorities for the service by what our political masters are saying, the top three challenges are to increase funding, reduce managers and sort out parking. Oh, and above all we should trust the doctors and nurses to run things because they’re really, really lovely.

Labour might argue that it has already set out its stall and has its track record to fall back on. In fact, so assured of it are they that they felt relaxed enough to pull a major announcement out of the bag. In the future, outpatients would subsidise parking for inpatients. And choice would be stimulated by making the NHS the preferred supplier.

Ok, so Andy Burnham was playing to the gallery, no doubt more interested in the real election next year for leadership of the Labour Party.

Andrew Lansley on the other hand has a real problem. It’s the same one that Chris Smith and Frank Dobson had back in 1997. Like them, Andrew doesn’t have a health policy, because he is using his opponent’s one.

What Andrew does have is a thesaurus, and he has been throwing Labour’s policies into it and coming up with new names. So out go targets and income outcomes (that reads well). Outcomes also have the benefit of not being measurable for many years.

Andrew’s other great new idea is to reintroduce fundholding. Hmmm that makes as much sense as David Cameron saying we shouldn’t regulate bankers two years ago.

So Labour’s policy is actually Ken Clarke’s policy from all those years ago, and the Tory’s policy is actually Alan Milburn’s.