Unsurprisingly one health story dominated the papers at the start of the week.
The front page of the Daily Telegraph carried the headline “Clegg’s change of heart on NHS”, reporting that the deputy prime minister was threatening to “derail” the reforms, despite having “endorsed the proposals just months ago”.
The Guardian gave double coverage to the issue. It ran separate stories on the “agreement” of Mr Clegg and prime minister David Cameron to change the Health and Social Care Bill as a concession to the Liberal Democrats, and a letter from Royal College of GPs chair Clare Gerada to the PM attacking the reforms.
The Financial Times focused mostly on the possible dropping of the commissioning part of the bill, and the “increasingly precarious” position of health secretary Andrew Lansley. The Daily Mail meanwhile argued that the entire NHS reforms package could be “killed off”, reporting: “Leaders agree to tell Lansley his entire bill could be axed”.
Readers had to wait until page 6 in the Times for the story, but its headline was even less likely to go down well in the Lansley household, stating: “Cameron ready to humiliate NHS reform minister as a sacrifice to appease Clegg”.
Amid all the talk of junking the NHS reforms, the Daily Telegraph managed to fire off a shot for the right by leading with the story that “workers are 40 per cent better off in [the] public sector”. The story was based on a report from the Policy Exchange think tank.
The Daily Mail also got in a snipe at NHS managers, reporting that the service was losing £3bn a year to fraud.
“Public kept in the dark by complacent bosses”, the paper said in the story on a report from another Conservative-friendly think tank, 2020health.