Sunday night is usually quietly un-newsy and health politics is no exception. But not last Sunday night, when it emerged that British Medical Association chair James Johnson had fallen on his scalpel over the medical fiasco.

Sunday night is usually quietly un-newsy and health politics is no exception. But not last Sunday night, when it emerged that British Medical Association chair James Johnson had fallen on his scalpel over the medical fiasco.

Although Mr Johnson may not be aware of it (he is a very busy man), Sunday is also the night when this column quietly gathers material for its weekly report. It is a tradition lost in the Celtic mists of sylvan antiquity, long before the BMA had a decent website and when Druids still dispensed complementary medicines on prescription.

So I was busy reading the usual mixture of press cuttings, Hansards, e-mails and reports, ready to start harrying MPs, ministers, spin doctors and paramedics when I unearthed a 'Johnson quits: so far unconfirmed' claim lurking among my afternoon e-mails.

Naturally Tory MPs like Peter Bottomley, to whom I spoke later, felt vindicated in their campaign to head off what had long been predicted to be a looming disaster.

Mr Bottomley, honorary ex-health-secretary-by-marriage, was cheered by medics in the Commons public gallery last month for suggesting that the prime minister -.either of them.- use the discredited medical training application service to pick new health ministers.

Ministers were less cheery and muttered about hysteria, scapegoating (who's next: Patricia Hewitt? Professor Sir Liam Donaldson?) and the propensity of doctors throughout history to succumb to bouts of collective self-importance. Not to mention that vocal lobby, doctors' parents, who made sacrifices to put them through training and/or believe in the hereditary principle in medicine.

Notwithstanding the undoubted shambles over the new system, which has two distinct components, I have some sympathy with the ministerial point of view. Many MTAS e-mails I have read this year have been very over the top, although Mums4Medics' angry Sunday night agitation ended with an incongruous 'have a lovely weekend'.

So where do we go from here? Ministers believe the Modernising Medical Careers blueprint, which Jim Johnson fatally defended in his Times letter, will stay.

'Doctors went through agonies in the past, but it's much more transparent now. We have to learn from what happened and get it bedded down once we're out of this morass,' one key Labour player assures me. That may be the complacent verdict of someone who, like Johnson, is too close to the system.

As for the MTAS software, its flawed algorithm and project management, it is now admitted that too much was outsourced. The Commons health select committee has been in the US and Canada this week examining big health IT schemes. Let's hope it learns something.

Of course, the immediate future depends a lot on what the judge decides in Remedy UK's bid for judicial review. You know the answer. As I write I don't, but on Sunday night both sides expected to win. I don't envy him that algorithm.

Either way, this summer's appointment process will be completed in the old-fashioned, Druidic way by the 15 postgrad deaneries while urgent in-house reviews will continue to improve the system. Life will go on.

The bigger picture concerns excess of supply over demand. Lib Dem MP Evan Harris, a smart and lively ex-medic, blames Whitehall.

Governments have wanted to create many more consultant and specialist posts, but did not require trusts to hire more. Quite the reverse, the pressure lately has been to spend available money on cheaper, non-consultant posts.

Ministers dispute that: you can't have three to four years of costly training if there aren't jobs to go to. Harris predicts some good doctors will now go abroad in a hump.

Peter Bottomley fears the same and is angry. But he concedes a point made by ministers: the new, more open system encouraged many doctors, the 'lost tribes' passed over for specialist training and stuck in parking grades, to try again. Result? Worse gridlock.

And what of Ms Hewitt? Everyone, including her, agrees that Gordon Brown will remove her next month. So don't bother to buy that rope.

Michael White is assistant editor (politics) of The Guardian.

See opinion, pages 18-19.