Newspaper headlines: NHS concerns on front pages

The Times front page, 7/12/18

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Concerns about the National Health Service lead some newspapers, with the Times reporting that official figures show five million patients are forced to wait more than three weeks for a GP appointment every month. There are 1,000 fewer family doctors than when ministers pledged to recruit 5,000 more in 2015, the paper points out.

The Guardian front page, 7/12/18

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Meanwhile, the Guardian suggests that NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens is at “loggerheads” with the government over the improvements that can be expected in return for the extra £20.5bn Theresa May promised to the service. The paper’s sources have told it tensions emerged “amid sharp differences of opinion” over the ambitions for the service’s long-term plan.

Daily Star front page, 7/12/18

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An education story, of sorts, leads the Daily Star, which has the latest in a series of reports focusing on the “snowflake generation”. Children as young as nine “will now be able to meditate at school as they struggle with the ‘daily grind’,” the paper reports.

The i front page, 7/12/18

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For others, Brexit is still the big story in town. The i says that after three full days of debate, cabinet ministers have urged Theresa May to consider “pulling” next Tuesday’s vote on her Brexit deal to prevent a “devastating” defeat. “Back down or else,” is their message, according to the paper’s headline.

Daily Telegraph front page, 7/12/18

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“What now, Prime Minister?” is the Daily Telegraph’s take. The paper also says senior ministers have advised Mrs May that MPs will reject the Withdrawal Agreement she struck with the EU. “Ministers offered her four options, including a postponement of the vote, but came away exasperated when she refused to commit to any of them,” the Telegraph says.

Daily Express front page, 7/12/18

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Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn is in the Daily Express’s firing line. The paper says the Labour leader – a “lifelong critic of rich political donors” – has been “pleading for funds at an elite gathering of the rich”. He “sped from the Commons to hold out a begging bowl for donations at a lavish dinner hosted by a club whose members pay a minimum £1,000 annual fee,” the paper says.

Daily Mail front page, 7/12/18

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The Daily Mail reports on the “mayhem” suffered by 30 million smartphone owners who were left without mobile internet coverage because of a “blackout” on O2’s network on Thursday. “Along with frustration to millions of individuals, the glitch hit satnav services in a blow to taxi firms, couriers and food delivery services,” the paper points out.

The Sun front page, 7/12/18

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The Sun has images it says shows Arsenal footballers using nitrous oxide – or “hippy crack” – during a party at a West End club.

Financial Times front page, 7/12/18

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The Financial Times follows up on the arrest of the chief financial officer of Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. China has demanded the release of Meng Wanzhou, while its embassy in Ottawa accused US and Canadian authorities of having “seriously harmed” her human rights after she was arrested on Saturday, the paper reports.

Metro front page, 7/12/18

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The Metro reports on how police have arrested three young British men suspected of being involved in a neo-Nazi hate campaign that called for Prince Harry to be shot as a “race traitor” for marrying a mixed-race woman.

Daily Mirror front page, 7/12/18

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And the Daily Mirror leads on the case of Jamie Acourt – one of five men suspected of the racist killing of teenager Stephen Lawrence 25 years ago – who faces jail after pleading guilty to conspiring to supply “huge quantities” of cannabis resin.

The head of the NHS in England, Simon Stevens, is in the news this morning.

According to the Times, five million patients a month are waiting more than three weeks to see their GP. And the paper says 1,000 fewer family doctors are in post than when ministers pledged to recruit an extra 5,000 in 2015.

Mr Stevens’ plan for joined up care to keep patients out of hospital “relies on beefed-up GP surgeries offering more treatment and co-ordination locally, but despite extra money, £20,000 ‘golden hellos’ and overseas recruitment drives, numbers continue to fall”, the Times adds.

Meanwhile, Mr Stevens is said to be at loggerheads with Downing Street, the Treasury and Department of Health and Social Care about how much his long-term plan for the health service can promise to boost care.

“Negotiations have left ministers ‘fed up’ and ‘deeply irritated’ that Stevens is refusing to include explicit guarantees they believe will reassure voters that the service will improve dramatically over the next five years thanks to the extra money,” the Guardian reports.

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Dream ticket?

MPs might be taking a break from the five-day Brexit debate but it doesn’t keep the saga out of the headlines, with many papers speculating as to what might happen in next week’s vote.

The Daily Telegraph says cabinet ministers have told the prime minister to come up with a new plan to get her deal through Parliament, after the chief whip admitted she would lose the vote. The paper says senior ministers gave Theresa May four options to attempt to salvage her deal but that they left Downing Street “exasperated” when she failed to commit to any of them.

In its coverage, the Sun says Mrs May could stand down if she loses the vote. It reports that Tory insiders are predicting what it calls “a media blitz” by ministers paving the way for a leadership run. Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Commons leader Andrea Leadsom have sparked speculation about a so-called “dream ticket” bid, after they invited colleagues to a joint Christmas drinks party, it adds.

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On the web, Buzzfeed suggests several of the PM’s senior allies have raised the prospect of a second referendum, with voters being offered a choice between her deal, and staying in the EU. But it quotes “a source familiar with the conversations”, saying Mrs May is “vociferously opposed” to the idea. “It is the only time she loses her temper,” the source is quoted as saying.

Writing in the Guardian, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn acknowledges that a fresh referendum would be an option if the current deal fails. But he also urges MPs to back what he calls “Labour’s alternative Brexit plan”.

This, he says, would include a new, comprehensive customs union with the EU. Despite both Brussels and Downing Street insisting that Mrs May’s deal is the only one possible, Mr Corbyn argues that his plan “can be negotiated with the EU, even at this late stage”.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times says the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit is causing City traders to shy away from making bets on the pound. It quotes a banker saying that sterling is impossible to trade at the moment, because of the multiple permutations of Brexit.

‘Duping the vulnerable’

The Daily Mail and Daily Express are united in their condemnation of Mike Betts, who’s chief executive of the Motability car scheme for people with disabilities.

Mr Betts is to step down after the National Audit Office found that customers had been overcharged £390m by mistake, while the scheme amassed more than £1bn in unplanned profits since 2008.

The Mail’s leader column describes Mr Betts’s decision to step down as “a great victory for disabled people”. It also urges ministers to review Motability’s tax breaks, which are worth hundreds of millions of pounds and says they should take steps to end the firm’s monopoly.

Under the headline “duping the vulnerable”, the opinion column in the Express wonders whether any other organisations are guilty of similar practices.

Punks and pawns

The Manchester Evening News website has extensive coverage of the death of Buzzcocks singer, Pete Shelley.

Among the tributes, Peter Hook of New Order describes him as a “true gent”, saying: “Without Pete and the Buzzcocks I would probably still be working at the docks.”

The paper says that as well as being a pioneer of punk, Pete Shelley more or less invented the concept of the indie label.

Meanwhile, the Times reports on a revolution in chess strategy. It explains that – up until now – computers that play chess have been programmed to adopt strategies developed by humans over the 1,400 years since the game was invented.

A British artificial intelligence company, Deepmind, has created a program enabling the computer to develop its own strategies, starting with random moves.

It’s gone on to beat all human and computerised challengers, and create strategies that haven’t been seen before.

One chess champion tells the paper: “It doesn’t happen often in life that something is more amazing than you could have dreamt.”

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