The papers: NHS 'near collapse' and the 'cowardly' EU leaders

If there's one theme running through Sunday's papers, it is how Britain will react to David Cameron's failed attempt to block the selection of Jean-Claude Juncker as the next president of the European Commission.

The Sunday Telegraph leads with the story. It says "senior Tories" have rallied around the prime minister and branded other European leaders "cowards".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption David Cameron and Herman Van Rompuy held a stormy meeting in London, according to the Mail on Sunday

"Cowards" the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, says because they "weren't prepared to stand up in public and say the things they had said in private".

In an analysis piece inside the paper, Iain Martin says at least one minister has privately conceded that the defeat "means we are probably going to get out" of the EU.

Martin says the supposedly "conciliatory" communique issued by EU leaders after the vote which Mr Cameron lost, makes "no reference to the UK winning back any powers".

The Mail on Sunday carries a detailed report on Mr Cameron's attempt to derail "der spitzenkandidat - the frontrunner".

The Mail runs through the PM's timeline - from an angry meeting with European Council head Herman van Rompuy, to his ominous warning to the other EU leaders "this time it is our problem. But next time, it will be you".

The paper also carries an opinion poll suggesting that 47% of Britons now want to exit the EU.

By contrast, the Sunday Times carries a poll - taken before rather than after the "Juncker vote" - in which 39% of respondents want the UK to stay in the union, as opposed to 37% who want to leave.

The paper says the affair leaves Britain "one step nearer the exit" and it quotes former Tory policy adviser Dominic Cummings who has said: "If a renegotiation [of the UK's membership] leaves the EU in control of immigration it will be seen as a big failure.

"Having raised false hopes, it will make people more likely to vote 'out'".

The Times notes "nobody in Downing Street thinks control of immigration is achievable".

The Observer focuses on fears that a British exit from the EU will harm the economy.

CBI director general John Cridland tells the paper: "The EU is our biggest export market and remains fundamental to our economic future.

"Our membership supports jobs, drives growth and boosts our international competitiveness."

In the Independent on Sunday, Lord Lawson says that by being vocal about his opposition to leaving the EU, Mr Cameron has thrown away "his entire negotiating hand".

The former chancellor says the PM "should have threatened to campaign for Britain to leave the EU as a way of strengthening his position".

In its comment section however, John Rentoul believes Mr Cameron may have lost the battle but won the war for new terms of EU membership.

"Merkel couldn't accommodate Cameron this time," he writes.

"Her own party and the German press wouldn't let her. But his defeat last week might mean that she - and the others who don't want Britain to go - will try harder next time."

'Grim analysis'

In recent weeks, there has been a raft of stories predicting a messy end for the NHS unless something is done.

The Observer's lead story is unusual among these in that the trio saying the health service could "collapse" within five years are two Conservatives, one a former health secretary, the other a chair of the Commons health committee, and a former Lib Dem health minister.

Stephen Dorrell, Sarah Wollaston and Paul Burstow say that with the economy growing, the NHS must receive a real terms increase in spending to cope with the rising demand for its care.

Mr Burstow puts the figure as being £15bn more over the next five years than the "ring-fenced", zero-growth budget that the service currently has.

The Observer says the government figures' "grim analysis" is backed by sector experts.

It quotes Chris Ham of the health think tank, the King's Fund, who says that without more cash "the quality of patient care will be compromised by not having enough doctors and nurses on the wards and in surgeries and clinics."

The Sunday Telegraph says one hospital trust which has been rated "inadequate" by official inspectors is already short of 125 nurses.

The Medway Foundation trust, the paper reports, nonetheless pays at least 10 senior managers more than £200,000 a year.

The trust tells the paper it is actively trying to recruit more nurses.

It is not just lack of nurses that worries NHS watchers: the Independent on Sunday says a lack of real cadaver dissection is leaving medical students "unconfident" and with a "worrying lack of knowledge".

Computer images and models mean some students now qualify as doctors without ever having seen a real body and this has led experts to worry about a lack of suitable surgeons in the future.

The Mail on Sunday reports a pledge by the health secretary to "name and shame" GPs who repeatedly fail to spot serious conditions such as cancer.

Mr Hunt's plans include a rating system with a red alert for surgeries who fail to refer on patients who subsequently are shown to have been suffering from cancer.

The Royal College of GPs tells the paper that such a "crude" ranking system "may not tell the whole story".

The Sunday Express leads on another of Mr Hunt's ideas - to deploy nurses within GP surgeries to carry out "routine" medical tasks, leaving doctors more time to deal with consultations.

The plan is a response to a shortage of family doctors, the paper says.

It has found that 75 UK practices have more than 5,000 patients per doctor and one - in Frinton-on-Sea, Essex, has one GP for 8,000 patients.

Good people

Price hikes during the school holidays are the bane of many a parent of school-age children but things could change, the Sunday Times reports.

The paper says a wealthy American banker, living in the UK, is to challenge the policy of fining parents who take their children out of school except during designated holidays.

James Haymore, who works for US investment bank JP Morgan, says the policy is a "breach of the Human Rights Act" and his children's right to family life.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Many parents would like to take their children on holiday outside of high season

He is contesting a £120 fine given to him when he took his three children to America to attend a memorial service at the start of the spring term.

Mr Haymore told the paper: "We are good people. I've never even been to court before.

"I just hope our speaking out and challenging the system will help to change it."

The Times explains that the fight is being supported by Lib Dem MP John Hemming.

He tells the paper: "There is a question here as to whether Michael Gove's judgement about when all children should always take holidays is better than a family's judgement."

The Times says "with the issue heading up the political agenda as the summer holidays loom, the head teachers' union is scrambling to help schools interpret the new rules consistently".

It adds that the National Association of Head Teachers is surveying schools to find out how its members are interpreting the government's rules on in-term absence.

The aim is to draw up comprehensive guidelines for all head teachers.


Other music festivals are out there, but there is only one winner when it comes to media interest and it is all over Sunday's press.

Yes, it's Glastonbury time and - in time honoured fashion - the Observer tells us "the weather can't dampen spirits" at the Somerset multi-media extravaganza.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Lana Del Rey pictured failing to wow the Independent on Sunday

The paper notes it has been a "meteorologically strange" festival this year, with a "brutal" thunderstorm on Friday forcing a temporary pause in the music just an hour after US act Haim told the crowd that they'd brought the "Californian sunshine" with them.

The Independent on Sunday thinks a few of the acts have been slightly soggy too, singling out Lana Del Rey as particularly uninspiring.

"I lost my festival smile on Friday and none of the big acts have managed to bring it back yet," one punter tells the paper.

In a feature inside the Indy, DJ Taylor says of Glastonbury "there is no more deliciously ironic sight than the spectacle of something or someone that was once proudly counter-cultural mutating into an unashamed symbol of the modern establishment".

Taylor says Glastonbury's path to "sanitisation" is a well-travelled one, deriving from the mid 70s when it was discovered "you could make money" from music festivals and "the middle-classes wouldn't put up with squalor".

In her sketch of the festival in the Sunday Times, Camilla Long claims that this year's "Glasto" is "dominated by prams".

"Why do selfish people bring children to events such as this?" she muses, "For trophy memories?"

Stressed by the festival, Long tells us that she visited a "transformational coach" on site who tells her that he was unable to help a therapy seeker on ecstasy who had wanted to "punch seagulls".

There's plenty more strangeness in the article and a hilarious description of the "she-pee" female toilets which BBC taste and decency rules oblige me to omit, but which you can read here.

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