Agency nurses are raking it in with some hospitals paying them more than £120 an hour, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives.

"It's the economics of the madhouse," screamed The Sun's leader column. "This is nearly EIGHT TIMES the average nurse's hourly pay of£15.66," said the paper, which added "huge wages are also being paid out to pen-pushers", aka NHS managers.

Meanwhile, there is dismay at NHS North East's decision to spend£150,000 on life-size cardboard nurses to encourage patients to wash their hands, reports The Mail on Sunday.

The sum could have paid for six real nurses, the paper points out, plus staff are irked by the slogan: "She scrubs up well, do you?" One GP said nurses had been offended by the implication they were "a bit of totty".

Elsewhere The People reported a "meltdown" of junior doctors' morale after a survey by the paper found 60 per cent had thought about quitting medicine.

Perhaps the only people smiling this week were dentists, at health secretary Alan Johnson's call for fluoride to be added to water supplies.

"Nottingham, Manchester, Westminster and Bradford, which have some of the highest rates of cavities for children's teeth, are likely to be earmarked for fluoridation," reported The Sunday Times.

And finally, the NHS got "a royal rap on the knuckles" from Prince Charles over hospital food, said The Observer. His Royal Highness plugged organic, locally sourced food during a seminar at the Royal Brompton Hospital.

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