The irony is that 'taking politics out of the NHS' is sure to be mired in political speculation

Any suggestion that control of the NHS should be taken out of politicians' hands is fertile ground for newspaper leader writers and columnists.

Floated by Gordon Brown as part of the battle over the Blair succession, is the concept designed to prove that the chancellor is no control freak? His granting of independence to the Bank of England has been almost universally hailed a success, and with the NHS board he seems to be out to show that 'big government' isn't for him.

The irony is that 'taking politics out of the NHS' is sure to be mired in political speculation. Some commentators argued that the main point of interest was what it told us about Mr Brown's attempts to position himself for power rather than as a topic worthy of serious discussion.

The Daily Mail, however, grabbed the chance to hit the government over the head with an allegation from star columnist Melanie Phillips that the NHS is 'falling apart'. She argued that the really big question is not how the NHS is run, but how it is funded.

Similarly, the Mail leader writer believes that an independent board would 'end the scandal of singling out Tory constituencies for hospital closures'. But surely the Mail hopes the Brown proposal will reheat the debate on whether the NHS continues to be funded through general taxation.

Over at the Daily Telegraph, there are fears that an NHS board will lead to 'rule by quango'. The paper welcomes Mr Brown's realisation that the country's public services are over-centralised, but it argues that 'it is hard to think of many ways to make the NHS worse than it is, but Mr Brown has found one'.

The Financial Times' Nicholas Timmins reckons that we're heading towards the Brown model, anyway. In five years' time, the health service could have an independent commissioning board buying care for patients within financial limits set by ministers, he argues.