NHS South East Coast must be holding its head in its hands about its press coverage this week and last.

Let's hope the strategic health authority has a communications strategy in place to deal with the PR stemming from this week's High Court challenge by Rose Gibb, former chief executive of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust, over her severance package.

Even before the case started on Monday, The Daily Telegraph had taken the opportunity to make a link between Ms Gibb's challenge and its story that "Department of Health bureaucrats received£4m in redundancy payouts last year".

The paper said almost 30 officials at the DH were given more than£100,000 as part of "agreed packages", while another 40 received smaller payments, taking the total to at least£3.9m - twice that of the previous year.

Early reports from the High Court of a scrum of photographers hoping to snap Ms Gibb on her way in to court suggested interest in the case would be high - and not just among health service managers.

No argument

Still, at least the trust, the SHA and the Department of Health have had months to prepare how to handle the hacks over Ms Gibb's day in court. This was presumably not the case for NHS South East Coast when a leaked memo revealing health secretary Alan Johnson's frustration over mixed sexed wards turned out to be written by its chairman, Graham Eccles. In it, following a meeting with the health secretary, he quoted Mr Johnson saying of single sex wards: "Sane and rational arguments about why it can't be done no longer cut it with me, it's going to happen."

And the papers came back for more, with further details from Mr Eccles' memo leaked over the weekend and Monday. This time the subject was PFI, with broadsheet political editors reporting Mr Eccles' summary of the meeting that "there never was a 'plan B'".

At the time of writing, the SHA had declined to comment. Presumably they'll have to talk to the press when it comes to the outcome of Ms Gibb's court case - whichever way it goes.