A health authority chief executive who probably wishes to remain nameless reveals the latest government thinking on a new system of patient- centred PCGs. 'The core of the new system will be the establishment of patient consultative groups,' according to a secret document he has helpfully sent to Monitor. Every patient in the country will be part of a geographically based PCG, each averaging 500 patients. PCGs will have a management board of 11, including an elected chair, who will be the executive patient.

'At least six of the 11 patients must be middle class and they have the right to determine the chair. Two will be working class; one will be from an ethnic minority; one must have absolutely no knowledge of the NHS; and finally, one should be a relative of one of the GPs in the practice.' Monitor is so convinced of the veracity of this document, that space will be given over next week to further revelations.

But back to 'Ann's secret passion', as laid bare by this month's Cat World, where our beloved shadow health secretary is musing on the future. One day, cats will re-enter her life. 'She plans to have several, particularly of the long-haired variety. Following this, perhaps a couple of dogs, a donkey, rabbits, a mynah bird and most certainly a tortoise,' the magazine fearlessly reports. But it won't all be like a normal day in the Commons. Raising the terrible spectre of a Widdecombe-free parliament, she warns us all: 'Though I am enjoying my parliamentary work, I shan't make the mistake of leaving retirement until it's too late. I shall enjoy having time to myself while I am young enough to travel round the world.' Ann Widdecombe is 51.

Monitor is looking forward to a jolly good night out when 'international singing star David Essex' (well that's what it says here) tops the bill at an NHS 50th birthday gala at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, later this month. Highlights of the anniversary bash include Samantha Prince, assistant area manager for community nursing, mental health and learning disabilities in Leeds, who will tap dance her way to fame to the tune of 42nd Street. And can you afford to miss Dorset Community trust personnel director Sheena Naughton, who, the press release promises, will 'take lead role with her fiddle'? And they say managers are boring.

Boring possibly, but not overlooked. Unlike the 500 doctors missed out of August's official statistics on hospital medical staff numbers. A shamefaced Department of Health and Government Statistical Service press release has admitted that civil servants got their numbers wrong. New figures will be out this week.

Finally, thanks to HSJ reader Lucia Winrow for pointing out the mysterious resemblance between former GP turned Labour health select committee member Howard Stoate and 'the weird lawyer in the US sitcom Ally McBeal' (see pictures, left). Are they by any chance related?