HSJ readers will be well aware of the three-month battle to get health secretary Alan Johnson off the fence and spelling out his policy on the private sector.

This week that battle spilled off the pages of HSJ and the Financial Times and into The Times and The Guardian. A coincidence? We couldn't possibly comment.

First the anti-privatisation camp paraded its arguments in The Guardian (no surprise there then).

The hook was Michael Moore's new film, Sicko, about the problems with the private US system, which he compares with the success of Britain's 'socialised' system (as the Yanks call a publicly funded NHS).

The author (no surprises here, either) was Allyson Pollock, the academic well-known for her opposition to NHS privatisation. The US system was iniquitous, she said, so why had Labour tried to import it?

The Times, meanwhile, took a less belligerent approach, presenting the argument that (a) the NHS could not continue to blame under-funding for poor performance and (b) the choice policy had driven improvements by opening up the market.

It went to some eminent names for ideas but offered them very little challenge. So, for example, Professor Karol Sikora called for cancer networks to be opened up to save more lives.

Elsewhere, NHS news focused on prime minister Gordon Brown's pledge of a deep clean for all hospitals to wipe out superbugs.

It conjured up the image of Mr Brown, with a look of distaste and a pair of surgical gloves, dipping our hospitals in a vat of disinfectant.

Meanwhile several papers highlighted what the NHS calls serious untoward incidents but most people call cock-ups.

The Daily Star ran with 'NHS botch ops cost us£560m'.

Even that figure was dwarfed by the£4.5bn compensation bill The Observer said the NHS is facing over babies damaged at birth by hospital errors.