Most of the weekend was spent dissecting implications of the local elections, which hinted that the next government would be blue.

That is unless London's first Conservative mayor stuffs it up or Labour replaces Brown, with some papers naming health secretary Alan Johnson as a potential candidate.

Health commentators could not help but join in. A consultation on Healthcare for London found 51 per cent of respondents were in favour of amalgamating London GP practices into 150 polyclinics. While London mayor Boris Johnson came out against them, The Guardian said his "responsibilities for promoting public health do not appear to give him power to veto the scheme".

The Guardian was also concerned by shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley's defence of "abominable" hospital car parking charges, which raise£100m a year. "Why not bed and breakfast charges for inpatients too?" it asked. "Shouldn't people waiting in casualty... be charged a fee to sit down, as if they were renting a deckchair on the beach?"

Elsewhere the focus was on bed shortages. The Sunday Times reported hospitals are in such a rush to refill empty beds they do not have time to clean them. "Beds don't get cold between patients let alone cleaned," one NHS worker claimed.

The Daily Express blamed foreigners, with hospitals failing to police eligibility for care, it claimed: "Con artists from around the globe are effectively stealing more than£60m of NHS treatment - and Brown's clowns don't have a clue how to stop them."