And there you were thinking he seemed like such a quiet chap, but last week health minister Andy Burnham came out all guns blazing as he took at a swipe at people who 'get out their placards' when their local hospitals face closure.

And there you were thinking he seemed like such a quiet chap, but last week health minister Andy Burnham came out all guns blazing as he took at a swipe at people who 'get out their placards' when their local hospitals face closure.

Speaking to The Spectator magazine, Mr Burnham spoke out as it emerged that at least 29 accident and emergency units across England are under threat as, according to The Daily Telegraph, 'frontline trusts battle to cope with a£1.3bn deficit'.

Back to The Spectator and Mr Burnham was recorded as saying that 'when change is mentioned, people throw up their arms and get out their placards rather than say: "Actually, health technology is changing".' He went on to say that 'digging trenches to save every hospital bed is actually not very healthy in the long term. We're going to have to find a better way of having that dialogue'.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror shouted about 'campaigners' fury at new threat' as it told its readers about the alleged axing of 29 accident and emergency departments. 'The threatened closures come as cash-strapped NHS trusts struggle to cope with crippling debts,' it said.

It quoted shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley calling on health secretary Patricia Hewitt 'to be honest enough to admit her mismanagement is causing it'; although NHS chief executive David Nicholson hit back, saying that 'every health system' had to live within its budget. Grab what you can, people, 2007 is fast approaching, and nobody yet seems to know what it will bring the NHS.