Perhaps the most noticeable thing about the national media’s coverage of the Health Bill was its apparent reluctance to really analyse the detail and instead focus on the responses from the various detractors among the unions and interested parties.
Hence many stories reiterated the concerns about scale and pace, and the role of the private sector that have been around since the white paper was first published.
Among the left wing papers, The Guardian warned “Andrew Lansley unveils Health Bill as chorus of concern grows”, while the Daily Mirror went with “BMA warns health reforms are massive gamble”.
There was a surprising amount of negativity from the right wing media, which appeared unhappy more NHS managers would not lose their jobs.
The Daily Mail reported the bill was a “reprieve for the NHS pen pushers” and that “seven in 10 [managers] will keep their jobs despite ‘biggest shake-up ever’”.
A similar line was taken by The Daily Telegraph, which headlined with “Most managers keep jobs in £1bn NHS upheaval”.
The Sun alone put a more positive spin on things with a piece headlined “NHS shake-up will be better for docs, better for patients”. This was penned by a prominent member of the National Association of Primary Care.
On Monday The Daily Telegraph reported on a pilot in Dundee that could ironically lead to GPs being more tied to their computers. Patients are being asked to email their symptoms to GPs for them to assess, rather than turning up in person, according to the article.
There was also a return to stories about trolley waits - something not seen since the dark days of the 1990s. Under “Hospital left me on trolley for 4 hours as I lost baby”, the Daily Mail described the experience of a woman at Birmingham’s Good Hope Hospital.