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Media Watch: minister for laughs

Just a week after annoying the Daily Mail with some forthright opinions on assisted suicide, new minister Anna Soubry bolstered her reputation as the most entertaining new minister at the Department of Health over the weekend.

The Daily Telegraph reported her as saying the government “screwed up” its reform plans. In a follow-up statement she clarified that she was supportive of the reforms and that to suggest otherwise would be to take her remarks out of context.

All her ministerial predecessors had screwed up was explaining how the restructure would benefit patients, she said, surely becoming increasingly aware of how easy it was for a message to be misunderstood if not delivered with extreme care.

On Monday, the Royal College of Nursing launched a campaign to bolster the image of the profession, in reaction to what the BBC described as “devastating accounts of lapses in basic care”.

It won it a spot on Radio 4’s Today programme, while The Times had an interview with the union’s chief executive Peter Carter, who said nurses were being blamed for the “warehousing of the elderly”.

Reform deputy director Nick Seddon wrote in the paper’s Thunderer column that health secretary Jeremy Hunt should publish more information on variations in quality and safety and use the forthcoming Francis report to build a case for change.

But the best NHS scare story came from The Guardian, which started the week by revealing that private health firms were being told to gear up for a “£20bn NHS bonanza”. A report by corporate finance adviser Catalyst said the introduction of GP commissioning opened up new opportunities for firms to take over the provision of NHS services, much in line with government policy.

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