It seems even apparently mild-mannered Alan Johnson can snap. After months of doctors sniping at polyclinics, he did - via The Observer.

While avoiding the word "lying", he accused the Conservatives and the British Medical Association of "gross misrepresentation", "untruths" and propagating the "inaccurate claim" that the government plans to close or cut GP services.

He expects little less of the Tories, he implies, but says "it is extremely disappointing that the BMA would speak in equally lurid and inaccurate terms".

Mr Johnson even suggests the controversy may be caused "by some GPs who fear greater choice for patients, worried that they themselves will lose out". Surely not!

Of course GPs don't always have financial self-interest at heart, as the BMA's GPs committee chair Laurence Buckman remonstrates in the same paper: "What does he make of the King's Fund report on polyclinics? Did I bribe them?"

But Mr Johnson's belated defence of the government may be to little avail. Next day The Times went for "Minister uses Nazi gibe to attack opponents of GP super-surgeries". Which rather overshadowed its comparison of the regional visions for the next stage review.

But the award for health comparison of the week must go to the Daily Star on Sunday, which revealed variations in spending on Viagra by primary care trusts. "In the North East, men find it hardest to rise to the challenge, with spending costing the NHS an average of£1.30 for every patient." One regional vision we could all do without.