Newspaper headlines: Hospital building 'heroes' and testing 'shambles'

By BBC News

  • Published
A coronavirus test being carried outImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Many of the papers are scathing about the government handling of coronavirus testing for NHS workers

"Outrage", "chaos", "shambles", "fiasco" - just some of the words used to describe the government's efforts to test NHS workers in England for coronavirus.

Alongside photos of another doctor and a hospital worker who've died of the disease, the Daily Mirror says the number of official checks so far covers just 0.16% of NHS staff. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson's pledge to boost numbers, the paper says Downing Street is "failing the test". 

The Daily Telegraph is among the most critical. 

Under the headline "Questions without answers", the paper says the government is unable to say why the UK is lagging behind other nations on testing, why so few NHS workers have been tested, or when new antibody tests will be ready. 

Ministers are now under increasing pressure, the paper says, to explain why Britain - one of the world's leading scientific nations - is "struggling to match its European neighbour, Germany".

For the Daily Mail, the fact that just 2,000 frontline workers have been formally checked so far is the "latest shocking example" of what it calls the UK's "testing scandal".

It is a statistic, the paper says, which "humbles ministers".

The Times agrees that the government's plans are "in chaos", reporting that Mr Johnson has now been forced to "shift strategy" amid mounting criticism.

Photos on the front of several papers show an empty drive-through testing site for NHS workers in Surrey, where some frontline staff were turned away on Wednesday because they didn't have appointments.

The Times says some hospitals have resorted to brewing their own chemicals and asking vets for supplies so they can check their own staff.

A government source tells the paper the goal is to expand testing through an appeal to private companies, similar to an earlier call for manufacturers to make more ventilators.

The Guardian leads on new guidance for doctors issued in a document from the British Medical Association.

The paper says medics may have to ration care as the outbreak progresses, meaning older patients with a poor prognosis could be taken off ventilators, even if they're stable and their condition is improving.

The proposals - which will give doctors ethical advice in the event of the NHS becoming overwhelmed - say life-saving care may have to be limited to younger, healthier people.

The headline in the Daily Express speaks directly to the banks: "We bailed you out, now do your duty."

The paper urges them to "repay the favour" of the 2008 bailout by coming to the aid of taxpayers as the crisis deepens. Some lenders, the paper says, have been charging interest of as much as 30% on government-backed loans.

The Financial Times says pressure from the Bank of England for HSBC to cancel its dividend to shareholders for the first time since records began has "reignited a debate" at the top of the bank over whether it should move its legal base to Hong Kong.

With four fifths of HSBC's profits generated in Asia, one director tells the paper it was wrong for regulators at the Bank of England to "put a gun to its head".

And "Clap of honour" is the headline in the Sun.

The paper is urging people to carry on clapping their support for NHS workers at 20:00 BST this evening - and every Thursday from now on in a "show of solidarity".

The Daily Mirror says this week's applause will honour teachers, cleaners, supermarket workers and delivery drivers - as well as NHS staff.