Naughty of the BBC to choose the church of St Bartholomew the Great for its 'NHS at 50' edition of Songs of Praise. Naughty, too, of the Save Bart's campaigners who scented the chance of some live television publicity and duly filed into the pews wearing their 'Give Bart's back its A&E' t-shirts. But it was all a bit much for the Beeb's floor manager, who called a halt and removed them. Songs of Praise is, of course, pre-recorded.
Monitor pledges that next week there will be no mention of the NHS's 50th anniversary. But in the meantime, the Dave and Dierdre Sparts down at Leeds Hospital Alert win an HSJ award for the best piece of birthday publicity. They spent the weekend in the centre of our beloved NHS Executive's home town inviting shoppers to send cards featuring a dangling Dobbo to the health secretary (see left). Did Alan Langlands send one? Are civil servants banned from this sort of political activity, or is it a matter of personal, if career-limiting, choice?
As deadlines for last week's big management bash at Earls Court loomed and conference organisers' blood pressures soared, NHS Confed boss Stephen Thornton went missing. He was eventually tracked down to a motionless train, en route from Cambridge to London. 'Someone went into the toilet and pulled the communication cord instead of the chain,' he says. Now there's a metaphor for NHS management in there somewhere.
Speaking of transport problems and chains, Institute of Health Services Management members were robbed of their annual fix of ceremonial pomp at the conference when outgoing president Gill Morgan proved unable to drape the chain of office round the neck of her successor, Peter Homa. She had left it in a taxi on the way to Earls Court.
More NHS birthday celebrations down at Guy's. There was a time in the early 1990s when it was the Tories' NHS flagship. Alas, the Tories somewhat scuppered this by allowing next-door St Thomas' to take it over and close down its A&E. Now it looks as though Ann Widdecombe may be out to revive the old relationship, having chosen it as the venue for her own NHS 50th birthday celebrations. Could Ms Widdecombe's favourite film be Raise the Titanic?
Not that the Tory Party could afford to rent the video. Belts are being tightened to the last notch down at Conservative Central Office, where the straitened circumstances of the formerly wealthy party have reduced the toffs of the Conservative Medical Society to a diet of bread and water. What else can account for CMS's decision to invite hacks along to report Our Ann's post-prandial speech at their annual gathering - but to exclude them from the dinner itself. Maybe they'd have let us in if we offered to take sandwiches and our own brown ale...
Ever seen Alan Milburn lost for words? Doing his hand-shaking, meet- the-staff bit while opening Kingston University's new healthcare sciences faculty building last week, he was accosted by one academic wanting to know what he was doing about sexual health. Eye witnesses say the usually worldly wise health minister turned red and stammered that it wasn't his area. More a question for his predecessor. Gerry Malone would have known what to do.
Speaking of whom, Monitor was concerned to see that the two-time loser (and that's just at the last election) turned European journalist has been in trouble again. But though accused of 'clipping' a colleague around the head after she took exception to his after-lunch antics in the newsroom, Mr Malone does appear to have escaped with his employment still secure. No doubt his advocacy skills came in handy. He is a proven lawyer.
And finally: 'Laptops may be damaging your health,' warns a truly terrifying report by public service union Unison. 'Reports include eye problems, headaches, back and arm injuries, stress and the risk of muggings.' Indeed, so concerned is the union at the results of one survey that its local government boss, Keith Sonnet, called for laptops to be 'thrown out'. Is this the same Unison as the one that put itself at the cutting edge of technology by issuing its local reps with laptops?