UK paper review: Tuesday's front pages
- 12 November 2013
- From the section UK
Concerns over the state of the NHS feature on many of Tuesday's front pages, with the Daily Mail among those predicting a "winter casualty crisis".
It reveals the results of an investigation which, it says, showed at least 12,000 patients spent more than 12 hours on trolleys in accident and emergency departments last year.
Some 250 waited a whole day for a bed, while one unfortunate patient spent just short of three days on a trolley, according to data obtained by the paper through freedom of information requests.
While the Sun leads on claims at a tribunal that a crying baby was shut in a hospital cupboard, both the i and the Guardian focus on a report highlighting a shortage of 20,000 nurses which, it's suggested, is putting patients at risk. Official NHS data, according to the Guardian, shows the service has shed 3,859 full-time posts since the 2010 election.
But the Royal College of Nursing claims NHS trusts have not been replacing staff who leave, causing vacancy rates to rise to around 6%. That equates to 20,000 full-time posts, or nearly 34,000 workers when part-time work is taken into account, the report suggests.
Reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, broadcaster Penny Smith said: "If we have a horrible winter like we did last year, when [the cold weather] went grindingly on for ever and ever and ever, we are going to have real problems."
And, noting the i's reports that the prime minister has pledged to personally oversee the NHS response, political journalist Sean Dilley added: "Some might say David Cameron overseeing the NHS is a little bit like volunteering to take the wheel of the Titanic." However, he reminded viewers that - despite the horror stories - the vast majority of patients are happy with the treatment they receive.
In his editor's letter, the i's Oliver Duff argues that - while "belts have been tightened" across the public sector - the Department of Health ought to insist that vacancies are filled because nurses are "relieving ever more of the clinical burden from doctors - and in doing so provide excellent value for money".
In its leader column, the Mail argues that family doctors are key to relieving the pressure on casualty departments.
"The only long-term option is to rewrite the contracts negotiated in 2004 by the Blair government, which gave GPs huge pay rises, while letting them opt out of work in the evenings and at weekends," it writes. "GPs were the cause of this crisis. They must also be the solution."
Images of the devastation wrought on the Philippines by Typhoon Haiyan continue to be displayed on many front pages. A striking aerial photograph showing a boat dumped by the winds onto the wreckage-strewn streets of Tacloban is printed across the width of the Daily Telegraph's front page.
The paper hears from one survivor who says: "I thought it was the end of the world."
Another moving report comes from the Guardian's Kate Hodal, who describes the grisly scene along a stretch of road into the city: "Just past a lone white coffin with gold-painted handles lay a mass of dead, bloated bodies. Men, women, cats, dogs and pigs were piled in a heap against a stone house with a metal roof bent upwards like a question mark," she reports.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror has an exclusive interview with Britons including Stephanie Lewis and Seb Hall, who it describes huddling together and praying as the typhoon hit the island of Cebu, where they run a travel business for backpackers.
The Times is claiming an exclusive lead, reporting that illegally-trafficked organs are being offered for sale to British patients for tens of thousands of pounds. A reporter posed as the relative of a patient in need of a transplant and was told surgery would cost $40,000 (£25,000), plus a $35,000 payment to the donor.
It's a story that troubled the BBC News Channel's paper reviewers, with Penny Smith admitting that people might well be tempted to pay up, if they had the money. Sean Dilley said the story was "undoubtedly in the public interest" but added: "To what extent could it unwittingly act as an advert."
The tabloids feature extensive coverage of Armistice Day events, notably the funeral of Harold Jellicoe Percival, who was a ground crew member to the Dambusters flights. The veteran had no close friends and only a handful of living family dotted around the globe but about 500 strangers answered a funeral directors' advert to pay their respects in Lancashire, says the Daily Express.
"Strangers came in their droves to pay their respects in the crematorium chapel, while others stood in the rain to say farewell to the fallen hero known as Coe," said the Sun, while the Daily Star labels it the "most moving poppy story ever".
The Duke of Edinburgh is pictured leading tributes at Ypres by the Mirror, which reports on Dorothy Ellis - "the last surviving widow of a First World War soldier" - laying a wreath at the National Memorial Arboretum.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail tells of the "revenge" of former Royal Navy engineer Fiona Laing. She marched up to Lib Dem former Armed Forces Minister Sir Nick Harvey in front of dignitaries at a remembrance event in Devon and gave him £7.20 - the sum he had reclaimed on expenses for attending an Armistice Day event two years ago.
In Westminster, the issues of class and social mobility are still provoking comment in the wake of a speech by former Prime Minister Sir John Major bemoaning the dominance of the "private-school-educated elite" and "affluent middle class" in British public life.
The Independent prints a cartoon depicting Sir John as a Dennis the Menace-type figure pulling up his trousers while fleeing from David Cameron, who's left staring ruddy-cheeked into a fragrant top hat.
But Rachel Sylvester, in the Times, argues the PM's predecessor spoke out of concern for the direction of his party, its image and its electoral chances at a time when Labour are putting out populist messages, rather than disloyalty. "Sir John is not trying to cause trouble for David Cameron, he is trying to save his party from itself," she concludes.
However, Dan Hodges, in the Telegraph, says Sir John should know better. "If you listen hard, the demand for social mobility is a shrill and empty one," he writes. "The reality is, mobility in education is moving in one direction. Upwards."
The Sun puts it bluntly in its leader column: "We don't care which school our politicians went to." Pointing out that both NHS founder Clement Attlee and ex-Labour PM Tony Blair were public schoolboys, it adds: "The Sun has a far stronger objection to the modern generation of politicians who arrive fresh from university for lifelong careers as advisers, MPs and cabinet ministers."
The Telegraph is among the papers highlighting figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors suggesting 57% of its members have reported price rises during the month since the government extended its Help to Buy scheme.
Concerns over a house price bubble are raised by the Independent under the headline: "More evidence of a property boom (and why it's a bad news story)".
It quotes an Institute of Directors economist saying: "What the housing market needs is help to supply, not help to buy."
Still, according to the paper's own economics editor Ben Chu, talk of a property bubble is misplaced. "There are such entrenched structural constraints on the supply of new homes in Britain... and such strong demand for property... that an imminent collapse of values is an unlikely prospect."
There is certainly no sign of prices plummeting in Bantham, south Devon, where the entire seaside village has been put up for sale for £10m by the family that owns the estate.
The Guardian describes the village - with its thatched cottages and sandy beach - as one of the most unspoilt places in south-west England. One tenant, who runs the village shop, tells the Daily Express: "There is huge uncertainty and anxiety in the village, with many of us worrying about whether we will lose our homes."
Practically all the papers indulge in some light relief, courtesy of David Dimbleby and his new tattoo, and most seem incredulous that the Question Time host could indulge in body art at the age of 75.
The Daily Mirror's front page invites readers to "see what he had done... on page 7" before revealing the presenter's scorpion design. But it can't resist asking why he bothered. While the paper quotes Dimbleby saying it wasn't painful, its online report suggests he may have "squeaked a little".
The Sun enjoys a bit of fun, mocking up a speech bubble quoting Dimbleby as saying: "I'll take a question... but I don't want any needle". Meanwhile, the Daily Mail wonders whether he doesn't look "a little wary" as the artist goes to work in the publicity photo.
The Mail notes that getting inked has hitherto hardly been a "rite of passage" for BBC broadcasters. And its coverage sits alongside another story that contradicts stereotypes, headlined: "The middle class shoplifting spree."
Gammon joints, parmesan and coffee are now among the items most frequently stolen from the high street "as middle Britain goes shoplifting to maintain its lifestyle", the paper reports. It quotes the latest Global Retail Theft Barometer report as saying: "Really, there is no longer a typical person described as a shoplifter. They can come from all walks of life."
And the Daily Mirror has probably the most unusual front page story of the day. It reports how Briton Dougie Thomson was playing golf in Mexico when he was bitten by a 12-foot crocodile. He said he was playing a bunker shot when the croc latched its jaws onto his thigh. Apparently, Dougie's mates halted the attack by smacking the predator with clubs and running it over with a buggy.