Health secretary Alan Johnson was big news this week, as a row over a donation to his campaign to become Labour deputy leader spread across front pages faster than a hospital superbug.

No wonder he's been looking rather haggard, which might have stoked rumours he was resorting to plastic surgery. These were voiced after he checked into a Maltese spa, but it turned out that he'd simply flown to the resort to address the Maltese Labour Party's annual conference, reported The Sunday Telegraph. One aide told the paper: "I know his nose is a bit big and his hair's thinning in places, but it's not that bad."

While Mr Johnson was trying to steer clear of reporters, other Department of Health big guns were courting them. Public health minister Dawn Primarolo gave an interview to The Times, in which she revealed she struggles to live up to the advice she peddles to the population.

While most papers went big on soaring alcohol-related deaths among women, Ms Primarolo admitted she tries but sometimes fails to stick to the recommended 14 units a week. "I have woken up some mornings with a headache," she said.

Meanwhile the Financial Times reported "a code to promote the use of private hospitals" is on its way. DH commercial director Chan Wheeler appeared to pour cold water on predictions that soon up to 15 per cent of NHS waiting-list operations will be done by the private sector. But he said conditions were ripe for a "dynamic market" in the private supply of hospital and primary care to the health service.