Some weeks back, Monitor prepared to be engulfed by stories. Your stories. Tales of romance to hearten the soul in a St Valentine's Special.

Stolen kisses in the boardroom, primal urges escaping over an NHS Confederation buffet.

Levels of pleasure no finance director could hope to audit.

And yet? The day arrives and Monitor's heart-shaped postbag is quite empty. Instead, a rash of opportunistic press releases, hijacking the ultimate love celebration with messages about STDs, rubber johnnies and heart disease. Cold comfort indeed.

While on the subject of stolen hearts, news is that Interpol is on the trail of a love crime. Twenty-two prosthetic heart-valves have been pinched from a US hospital. The Medical Devices Agency has issued a warning to any loveless surgeons hoping to make use of the valves: they 'should not be used as their suitability for implantation cannot be guaranteed. For example, tissue heart valves. . .would be adversely affected by exposure to extreme temperatures'. Who said romance was dead?

Reading between the lines, it could have been North and Mid Bedfordshire community health council. No friend of originality, the CHC is joining with Beds health authority and local trusts to fool lovelorn teenagers with borrowed images of chat-lines, sex and becoming a millionaire. The launch of 'Can I Phone a Friend?' on Valentine's day, unleashed findings from their survey on teenage sexual health. Also hitching a ride on the lurve bandwagon is the British Heart Foundation.

Its latest press release - also out on the Big Day - asks if a Latin lover is your heart's desire, before shamelessly moving on to regurgitate tired statistics proving that a life of siestas, vino and olive oil will keep the old heart pumping.

More of the same, with Sky news turning the heat on vegetarians. Doing without your meat and two veg could leave veggies with a 'lacklustre libido', warn American nutritionists. Apparently lack of zinc - found primarily in meat, dairy products and shellfish - could hit testosterone levels where it hurts. Anecdotal evidence about the long-term effect of health service reconfiguration on bedroom action is perhaps more worrying.

On a more spiritual note, love isn't just about squeezing the squeezable bits. It's about sharing, solidarity - and above all, ponders Monitor, it's about caring. Time for a word from our leader, the undeniably virile Tony Blair. The launch of the government's carers strategy online provides a chance for Mr Blair to share his own feelings on the subject. Cue Tony: 'We all may need care, or to provide care. When I was a boy, I watched my own mother care for my father after he had a stroke.' Mr Blair was clearly a bit busy plotting his reign of terror to be much use to his troubled parents, but isn't it nice that the thought was there?

The website also provided the chance for health minister John Hutton to 'meet his fans' without having to actually do so. He took what Monitor thought was a risky and untested decision to answer questions from 'ordinary people'. At www. carers. gov. uk the questions and answers are there in full. Philip Johnson makes a cogent case against benefit cut-off points, government fraud crackdowns and the difficulties of caring for his father, who is in the early stages of dementia. Mr Hutton promises to keep financial support under review. So that's that sorted. Later, Mr Hutton's patience begins to wear thin. 'Who does my 83year-old wife, totally blind, little hearing, no sense of smell, contact if I, her sole carer for the past 35 years, am seriously ill?' asks a carer from York Vale. Clearly loath to use the 'dunno' word, Mr Hutton instead tells the chap off for not providing more information and boots him in the direction of NHS Direct. Touching.

Finally, the NHS may be all out of love, but Valentine's week sees a frankly beautiful expression of it between two of its former big boys. Professor Ray Rowden, ex-boss of the High Security Psychiatric Services Commissioning Board, and former health secretary Frank Dobson 'had our differences', admits Professor Rowden.

But he has put the tortured past aside to boost the flagging fortunes of Dobbo's mayoral campaign by canvassing support from chums in 'the health community'. Professor Rowden goes on: 'We disagreed on Bart's, we disagreed on Ashworth. But I still believe he is the best one for the job.This job needs a big beast. He is, in political terms, a big beast.' 'Nough said.