Asthma concerns, Baltacha tributes and 'bawl over' for Suarez's Liverpool?

  • 6 May 2014

On a day when health stories dominate the front pages, it's concerns about asthma care that lead two newspapers.

The Times and Daily Telegraph highlight a Royal College of Physicians report claiming that hundreds of asthma sufferers are dying needlessly every year.

The review investigated a sample of 195 deaths from the illness to find that there was "room for improvement" in the treatment of 83% of the cases and that the overall standard of care was "inadequate", reports the Times.

Of 1,250 deaths from asthma in 2012, the report suggests more than 800 could have been avoided with the right care, says the Daily Telegraph, noting that the number of deaths rose 10% over three years.

Meanwhile, it's diabetes that concerns the Daily Mail. It picks up on a charity's report suggesting that one in seven hospital beds is occupied by someone with the disease.

The paper highlights the rising cost of treating the UK's 3.8 million sufferers, which the report says currently stands at £10bn per year and will rise to £17bn by 2035.

However, the Daily Mirror focuses on the number of children becoming "seriously ill" - up to 500 a year - because doctors fail to spot they have diabetes. By the time they find out they have the condition in hospital, most of them have already developed diabetic ketoacidosis which can cause severe dehydration and swelling of the brain, the paper adds.

Minority report

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Under the headline "Melting pot UK", the Sun presents a summary of a think tank report which suggests that by 2051 a third of the population of England and Wales will be non-white - up from the current 14%.

The paper reproduces statistics from the Policy Exchange report, revealing that 24% of Pakistani men in the UK work as taxi drivers, 40% of the black community lives in social housing, while 65% of Indians or Pakistanis own their home and that 70% of young Indians go to university, compared with 43% of white youngsters.

The Daily Mail notes that the report says almost 70% of people from minority groups voted Labour in 2010, while Indians are four times more likely to vote Conservative than black Africans.

And the Guardian quotes the think tank warning that Britain's political class is unprepared for the increase in the minority population, with the two largest parties guilty of "lumping together" minority groups, when they should be recognising sizeable differences between them.

In its editorial column, the Daily Telegraph recognises that some people will be concerned by another statistic - that within the five largest minority groups, only 20% of people identified themselves as English. However, it says a "more positive story" is that "a good majority describe themselves as British". This, the paper says, "is a reminder of what a unifying concept Britain is".

A separate set of figures interesting the Daily Express shows "the impact of a decade of EU-fuelled migration", in terms of where more than 2.3 million eastern European migrants have settled since 2002. Most are in the capital but - of 1.2 million Poles - many are in Edinburgh, Birmingham and Luton.

Many of the 256,000 Lithuanians live in Peterborough, Fenland and Boston, while Bulgarians (total 107,000) have headed for Herefordshire, Maidstone and Angus, and Hungarians (144,000) can be found in Bristol, Bolton and Brighton, the paper says.

'Fighting spirit'

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The fighting spirit of former British number one tennis player Elena Baltacha, who's died aged 30, is captured in several papers. The Daily Mail describes the "battler on court, and the one last fight she couldn't win" against liver cancer.

The paper says the Ukrainian-born player would have been aware she had a heightened risk of developing cancer because of the rare condition of sclerosing cholangitis she developed in her teens.

"A doctor once declared that her liver was in a worse state than that of George Best," says the Times's obituary, which adds that the "feisty" player "kept bouncing back" to reach a world ranking of 49 despite a series of debilitating injuries during a 12-year career.

The Guardian, which describes Baltacha as "universally popular", recalls how she arrived in Suffolk from Kiev when her footballing father, Sergei, signed for Ipswich Town in 1988. "Frequently, her strong game and fighting spirit carried her through qualifying events at grand slams," it adds.

She was "widely regarded as one of the most dedicated competitors on court," according to the Daily Telegraph, which highlights her Federation Cup record - winning 33 and losing only 16 games for her country. "Her proudest moment came when she represented Britain in the London 2012 Olympics," says the Financial Times.

"Elena represented the very best of British fighting spirit," reckons the Daily Star. The Independent's tennis correspondent Paul Newman describes how "Bally" made relatively little money from her career (£1m spread over 15 years) but still set up an academy to provide opportunities through her sport to under-privileged children in Ipswich.

"If you think it is all very well for former tennis players to plough their wealth into their academies, which might quickly turn a profit and keep the founder's name in the public eye, think again... Baltacha simply wanted to give back, having been grateful for the opportunities that tennis had bestowed on her."

Crying game

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Once again images of a weeping footballer dominate the back pages. This time it's Liverpool star Luis Suarez sobbing into his shirt, after seeing his team throw away a 3-0 lead to draw at Crystal Palace.

"It's bawl over," is how the Daily Mirror views his team's challenge for English football's Premier League title.

"Broken," is how the Sun describes the star, just hours after the Uruguayan was named Football Writers' Player of the Year. Meanwhile, the paper's writer Shaun Custis wonders: "How on earth did Liverpool manage that?"

Dominic King, in the Daily Mail, reckons he knows the answer, pointing to the side's defensive failings. And Rob Bleaney, in the Guardian, agrees that: "Time and again the strikers have got the side out of trouble but Liverpool have conceded 49 league goals and counting this season and eventually it has cost them."

Giuseppe Muro, at Selhurst Park for the Independent, echoes the view of most football writers when he says the "Reds have blown it". However, the Liverpool Echo insists that Liverpool are "still in the title race" , under the headline: "Down, but not out."

And Neil Ashton, in the Mail, reminds readers: "If Manchester City fail to beat Aston Villa tomorrow, there is still a chance."

What odds a moist-eyed player in sky blue featuring in Thursday's sports pages?

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