Anyone still planning their Christmas celebrations may wish to take heed of the recent experience of NHS Blackpool.

The primary care trust held a party in November to mark the NHS's 60th anniversary and as a thank you to staff.

Managers have since been met with a stream of stories on the "glitzy ball", courtesy of the Blackpool Gazette.

From "£30,000 being blown on a party" to a charity's declaration that "£30k NHS party cash could help save us", in Blackpool the 60th is receiving more coverage than planners could have dreamed.

A sarcastic GP, writing anonymously, thanked PCT board members "for taking yourself and a bunch of administration staff on a£30,000 party to celebrate our hard work over the years".

Criticism from a mother whose son has apparently been denied a prosthetic limb by the PCT even earned the party a mention in The Sun.

Blackpool board members - who the Gazette has demanded "just pay back the cash" - could be forgiven for viewing norovirus, flu and accident and emergency pressure as a welcome distraction from their bash.

The traditional seasonal headlines took hold this weekend - the Daily Express leading the way with "Killer virus grips Britain" and "Hospitals could be in meltdown".

The Daily Mail echoed: "Flu and deadly winter vomiting bug sweep Britain."

Reports that the annual outbreak of winter NHS stories has come earlier than usual are as yet unconfirmed.