NHS drugs 'lottery', stay-at-home sons and a motorway pub make headlines
- 22 January 2014
On a day when no single story dominates the press, several papers lead with health stories.
The Daily Telegraph features a report describing an "endemic and disastrous postcode lottery" in the NHS's distribution of medicine for serious diseases.
It says research examined common treatments approved by health watchdogs to find 12,000 patients denied injections for age-related macular degeneration, which causes blindness, and a third of patients denied drugs for kidney cancer and motor neurone disease.
Meanwhile, the Independent quotes the King's Fund think tank's chief economist as saying there was a "feeling from NHS staff that they've had a bit of a bashing" at the hands of the government, at a time when budgets are being squeezed. The paper notes doctors' beliefs that staff morale affects the quality of patient care.
There's much-needed relief for migraine sufferers in the Daily Express, which reports that a "radical remedy" has been approved for use. A hand-held "magic gadget" passes gentle magnetic pulses through the skull, destroying neurons on the brain, it says.
It "sounds like a quack remedy", reckons the Independent, noting that: "No-one really knows how the therapy works." But it adds: "The benefit could mean all the difference between days spent prostrate in pain in a darkened room, or going about a normal routine."
Statistics revealing that 3.3 million adults in the UK - including one-in-three men - live with their parents offer the papers plenty of food for thought. The Guardian says many young people have moved home to save for a deposit to buy a house but catches up with one couple who find saving difficult because they spend "a good portion" of their income on activities to "keep them out of the house".
The Daily Mail speaks to a law student living with mum and working part-time as a waiter, saying most of his mates are in the same boat, while the Independent finds a father and son, aged 66 and 21, insisting they get along just fine in a one-bedroom flat.
But psychologist Dr Lynne Jordan, in the Independent, cautions that living in the parental home in your 20s or 30s "can undermine your identity as an adult". She says: "Most of us tend to revert to a teenage or even childhood mentality," with knock-on effects for self-esteem.
The cartoonists have some fun with the story. Pugh, in the Mail, pictures Skippy the bush kangaroo as an overgrown joey still in his mother's pouch, while the Times sketches an elderly mother telling a smoking, bearded son: "If you're having a midlife crisis, go to your room!"
The Daily Express illustrates the story with a photograph of Ronnie Corbett's 40-something character Timothy Lumsden being fussed over by his mother in 1980s sitcom, Sorry!
However, the Financial Times finds serious economic consequences of the trend, notably in the lack of new buyers on the property market but also in data showing young people are buying fewer cars, driving fewer miles and delaying taking driving tests.
Drinking and driving
The opening of Britain's first motorway pub has led to a lively debate, with the Daily Express getting the verdict of a range of sources - from motoring groups to service station aficionados - on whether it is a good idea or not.
The Daily Mail notes the time the first pint was poured - 09:21 BST - but says the first customer downed only half of his pint of London Pride, before declaring it a daft idea and leaving. The Independent discovers he only turned up to have "something to tell the guys about in the office" after hearing about it on BBC Radio 4.
Some lucky reporters were sent to have a drink on the firm, and the Daily Star's Steve Hughes was among those at the bar, off the M40 in Buckinghamshire. After a pint of lager and a pie and chips - including a free soft drink - he left the Hope and Champion feeling "refreshed and perfectly safe". His verdict: "It's all a matter of being sensible - and it was also nice not getting ripped off at a service station."
The Daily Telegraph's Harry Wallop found a 62-year-old bus driver comparing the moment with England's 1966 World Cup victory at football: "I saw that and I wanted to be here too." However, Wallop - pictured supping a pint in the car park - notes that prices are 10% higher than in Wetherspoon's High Street pubs and that just 101 pints had been pulled by 4pm. "Britain's love of beer, it seems, is outweighed by its love of a bargain. Carnage on our roads may yet be avoided."
Meanwhile, Tom Parry in the Daily Mirror, says "police were keeping a close eye on the boozer".
The papers are divided over the idea. "Normally we'd cheer the opening of a new pub to the rafters," says the Sun, before adding: "A Wetherspoon's on the M40 is a needless temptation. Britain's motorways are safe. Why do anything to make them less so?" However, the Daily Star says the view that it will encourage people to drink and drive is "an insult to the vast majority of sensible Brits", adding: "Treat people like adults and they tend to behave like them."
In any case, the Mail points out, alcohol is available on autobahns in Germany and Belgium and at motorway restaurants in Holland and France.
The UKIP factor
The Times leads on a report that David Cameron is to block his home secretary's plans to curb police stop-and-search powers. Theresa May insists the powers cause too much resentment of police, and the Times says the "clash" between the pair "threatens to become a battle".
Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, political commentator Daisy McAndrew said Mrs May is seen as a potential Conservative leader and that "having a big barney with No 10 in those sort of circumstances can sometimes be quite helpful".
Martin Bentham, of London's Evening Standard, noted the Times's suggestion that the PM was blocking the move to avoid looking soft on crime in comparison to UKIP, adding: "It would be very sad if the reforms... weren't to happen for that reason."
UKIP's leader Nigel Farage - given space in the Daily Express - claims that "even our sternest critics now concede [the party] has transformed the political landscape" in an article answering criticism of his comments that women who take time off work to have children are "worth less" to City employers than men. He insists he wasn't being anti-female but simply refusing to put "political correctness ahead of the truth".
But the Sun is still giving him a hard time, using some digital trickery to picture him as a "new man" in "undies" and rubber gloves doing "women's work".
The Daily Telegraph is unimpressed at the government having spent £3m getting rid of ruddy ducks from the UK in a bid to prevent it interbreeding with the Spanish white-headed duck and threatening the species' extinction. In 2000, there were some 6,000 of the American waterfowl in the UK but only 50 or so remain.
Still, "the cost of finishing them off has risen to £4,800 per brace," complains the Telegraph's editorial. "For that, the creatures could be tempted with caviar, flown first class to their native continent and settled for life in an MP-style bespoke duck-house."
Alternatively, the total spend could fund the tuition fees of about 300 students at Cambridge University. That's according to figures, also in a Telegraph story, suggesting the uni shelled out £3m - or £7,000 a day - on wine for student functions last year.
It quotes the bursar of one college as saying that only a small portion of the drink is used for internal dinners, with the rest being sold and profits donated to charity.
Making people click
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Times: Dave and Nick, time to prepare your divorce papers
Independent: Cate Blanchett calls out red carpet sexism at the SAGs: 'Do you do this to the guys?'
Guardian: Chelsea and Manchester United agree provisional £40m deal for Juan Mata
Financial Times: Huge cash pile puts recovery in hands of the few