The polyclinic row stepped up a gear this week as the Tories launched a 'campaign to save the family doctor', warning more than 1,700 GP surgeries could close.

"Communities that have lost their Post Office, their local shops and their local police station are now going to lose their doctor," David Cameron told The Times.

The Family Doctor Association chairman Michael Taylor told the paper that a petition organised by think tank 2020health, which Mr Cameron called on GPs to sign, was "anodyne".

"Most GPs will recognise this as politics rather than policy; nonetheless, I believe many will relish the opportunity to give the government a bloody nose," he said.

The Independent on Sunday weighed in with a special report and a leader titled "From Dr Finlay to medical megastores". "There is no reason why the whole of England should have a uniform provision of polyclinics where patients do not want them," it concluded, urging the government to "listen to the opposition for once".

Meanwhile, former deputy prime minister John Prescott gave us the shock revelation that he had suffered from bulimia. An extract from his autobiography in The Sunday Times described a visit to a consultant: "I found his waiting room full of young women. I was the only man there. I felt a right twerp."

And finally, the mind-boggling story of hypnotist Alex Lenkei who had successful surgery at Worthing Hospital without anaesthetic by sending himself into a trance. "I hope the NHS starts taking this seriously now," said Mr Lenkei.