Newspaper review: Stafford Hospital report examined

Sunday newspapers

The report of a public inquiry into one of Britain's worst medical scandals - the deaths of 1,200 people at Stafford Hospital - is not due to be delivered to ministers until later this month but already features on the front of two of Sunday's papers.

The Sunday Times claims the report will paint a devastating picture of the NHS in which a culture of fear, bullying and secrecy ran parallel to the neglect of vulnerable patients.

The Sunday Telegraph says it will call for an overhaul of regulation to ensure poor managers are weeded out and nurses given better training.

Meanwhile, the Observer says a whole range of the country's most trusted professionals will have their incomes slashed under the chancellor's sub-inflation rise in benefits and tax credits over the next three years.

An analysis by the Children's Society has suggested half a million soldiers, nurses and teachers will lose cash, in some cases many hundreds of pounds.

Wasted days

The Independent says more than 200,000 packages a day are failing to arrive on time as delivery drivers are given impossible workloads.

According to an investigation by the paper, problems included packages being left at the wrong address - couriers claiming addresses did not exist; days wasted waiting for deliveries, and spending large sums calling premium-rate numbers to try to track down missing parcels.

The travel arrangements of the Transport Minister, Simon Burns, come under scrutiny in the Mail on Sunday.

Its main story says Mr Burns - who deals with rail strategy and fares policy - is being chauffeured to and from work each day, avoiding the trains he is responsible for.

The paper says he is ferried the 35 miles between his Essex home and his Whitehall office in the comfort of a government car which costs the taxpayer £80,000 a year.

The political editor of the Sunday Express is angry about the cost of train travel.

Kirsty Buchanan says it is hard to imagine boarding a commuter train without feeling that you are being taken for a ride.

Michael Portillo gives an altogether more romantic image of British railways in the Sunday Telegraph - ahead of his new BBC Two series.

But he writes that he misses the restaurant car, complete with soup, steak and kippers.

Political flavour

The Sunday Mirror, The Sun and The Star on Sunday lead on the death of the 14-year-old sister of Coleen Rooney, wife of the England footballer, Wayne.

The Sunday Mirror says Rosie McLoughlin died of a rare illness she had battled since birth.

Ex-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott uses his new column in the Sunday Mirror to attack Michael Gove.

He says the education secretary is wrong to omit social reformers from the history curriculum so students can concentrate on kings and queens.

And there's a distinctly political flavour as MPs return to the Westminster fray on Monday after their Christmas break and the prime minister and Nick Clegg set out the coalition's programme in what the Sunday Express describes as a renewal of their vows.

Many see the welfare reforms as one of the government's biggest priorities for 2013 and the Sunday Times says the battle lines are drawn ahead of the vote on Tuesday to restrict rises in most benefits to 1%.

Cabinet Ministers are brought out to defend the measure. Writing in the Sun, Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith asks why taxpayers should pay more to sustain welfare payments while at the same time earning less.

His Labour shadow, Liam Byrne, argues in the Sunday People that the best way to reduce spending on welfare is to get the unemployed back into jobs and paying taxes.

Finally, according to the Mail on Sunday, English Heritage plans to stop erecting the blue plaques that commemorate the lives of famous historical figures because it can no longer afford to pay for them.

The paper is saddened by the decision. Life is enriched by the plaques, it says. They maintain our contact with history and make us wonder who in our generation will one day be commemorated.

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