Newspaper headlines: £2bn NHS boost and Penny Mordaunt's 'obscene' debate

With just three days to go before Chancellor George Osborne's last Autumn Statement before the election, the papers have been tipped off as to his announcements.

And several predict a £2bn cash injection for the NHS for a year from next April. The Sunday Telegraph says it's needed to "avert a crisis in hospitals and modernise the health care system" as it struggles to cope with an ageing population.

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A Sunday Mirror investigation gives a flavour of the kind of pressures staff are under, describing "frazzled doctors... quitting A&E in their droves", others fleeing for an easier life abroad and 74 NHS trusts struggling to fill vacancies.

The Mail on Sunday sees Mr Osborne trying to "blunt Labour's electoral advantage" on healthcare, while the Telegraph notes his decision "trumps the demands of the Lib Dems", who had called for a £1.5bn boost. It inspires the Sun on Sunday to mock up Mr Osborne as a surgeon in gown and mask, administering his "£2bn cure". However, the Mirror's editorial protests that the NHS "should not be a political issue".

The Sunday Express backs the chancellor, saying: "It is the health of the economy that is driving Osborne's investment." The chancellor writes as much in the Sun, expressing pride at an "economy growing faster than any other major economy in the world" and urging: "We must stay the course. Let's finish the job."

However, the Sunday Times borrows a line from Roald Dahl to argue that George's medicine is "not so marvellous". "The coalition was elected to 'deal with the deficit'... It has not done so," it argues. "The time to embark on a radical overhaul of the public finances was in 2010. That opportunity was squandered."


The perils of social media feature heavily in Sunday's papers. Mark Austin writes in the Sunday Mirror of his relief at his teenage daughter giving up her smartphone. Having spoken to an 18-year-old who's addicted to taking selfies for an ITV documentary, he's worried about the impact kids' obsession with being connected might have "on their well-being, equilibrium and , yes, their mental health".

He's not the only one. Cold Feet actress Hermione Norris tells the Telegraph she hates social media so much she'll ban her children from using the likes of Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat once they're old enough to use it, in favour of sending them out into the garden to "get as dirty you can".

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One man who's had his fingers burned is the BBC's John Humphrys who, according to the Sun, "by accident... managed to sign up" to Twitter. After nipping for a quick coffee, he tells Trevor Kavanagh, he returned to his desk to find the forum in "complete meltdown" at his arrival.

Sky's Adam Boulton has some advice for politicians who find themselves given a "dollop of abuse" on social media: "Smile and earn #respect." He argues in the Sunday Times: "Politicians who appear authentic and confident in themselves, warts and all, can still get away with it."

One politician who finds herself in a traditional media storm is Penny Mordaunt. The Mail on Sunday reports how the Conservative communities minister this week appeared to own up to fulfilling a bet by using the word "cock" no fewer than six times during an "obscene" Commons debate. The paper quotes the Royal Navy reserve insisting she hadn't made the speech - on animal welfare - purely to satisfy comrades in the officers' mess.

The Mail's editorial sees "no harm in making jokes" but cautions: "Treating Parliament as a joke is something else altogether."

Happy Monday?

Grumbling about Black Friday continues, with former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey wondering whether it was the "Black Day that killed Christmas" in the Mail. The Telegraph's Julia Llewellyn Smith writes how such sales "drag us back to the cave", tapping into our "primal urges" to stockpile, with the "drive for status that cavemen needed in order to have a pack leader... now satisfied by buying material goods".

Despite describing how shoppers are "deluded" by promotions, the Telegraph still offers nine tips on "how to shop safely on cyber Monday". That's the day when more online purchases are made than any other, with the Mirror saying Britons are expected to spend £650m via the web, starting with a 7am "sales blitz at breakfast".

And the Sunday Times warns the deals "are not what they seem", giving examples of popular gifts that were cheaper in early November, then had their prices hiked in order that retailers can claim to be offering high-percentage reductions. The paper imparts the wisdom of creator Martin Lewis, who says: "You only save money if you were going to buy an item anyway."

Dinner money

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The People says a "thrift-wrapped" Christmas is in store, with a supermarket price war meaning a typical Christmas Day feast will be more than £3 cheaper than last year. Spurred on, the Mail sets four of its staff the task of tasting supermarket offerings to find the best mince pies, smoked salmon, prawn canapes and champagne.

However, those treats may not be on the festive menu for some. The Observer reports that a "growing group of health-conscious shoppers" will be tucking in to "the likes of quinoa, coconut oil, flaxseeds and grain-free cereals". And if their stomachs are still rumbling by the time the Queen finishes her speech, they might join the growing numbers who end up in a restaurant.

The Independent on Sunday quotes two restaurant chains reporting bookings up 150% since 2011 as families dine out "to avoid the stress of cooking the perfect Christmas dinner (and the drudgery of washing up afterwards)".

Those who do opt for turkey may be tucking into a bird reared by a pop star, according to the Sunday Mirror. Ex-JLS star JB Gill spends most of his days farming in Kent, it says, and stands to make £5,000 from his investment in a livestock firm. "Next year JB expects to really bring home the bacon - when he starts sending his pigs for slaughter," adds the paper, before offering alternative versions of JLS hits. Examples include Everybirdy in Love, Turkey Chance on Me and Do You Field What I Field?

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