The NHS was everywhere this week, with heavy coverage ahead of Wednesday’s Health Bill.
The quality papers largely led on Sunday and Monday with stories on the health service, but all with a slightly different twist.
The Observer led with coverage of an NHS Confederation report that claimed the government’s NHS reforms were “extraordinarily risky” and warned that “hospitals will have to close”.
Meanwhile The Sunday Telegraph lead story reported that hospitals were “gridlocked” by swine flu, painting a picture of operations cancelled, accident and emergency units “overwhelmed” and major hospitals on “black alert”.
Its daily counterpart started the week with a “battle cry” from David Cameron under the headline “12 months to save schools and the NHS”. The piece was a cheerleader for the prime minister’s speech later that day defending the reform agenda. He attempted the same feat on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The Times front page led with a warning that the government’s NHS reforms “run the risk of disaster”. It was based on a letter from six unions, including the British Medical Association and Royal College of Nursing, about the scale and pace of reform and the introduction of more commercial competition.
Surprisingly, The Guardian chose instead to focus on the £20bn savings target. In its article, Royal College of Surgeons president John Black attacked primary care trusts for “banning operations for conditions such as hernia, cataracts and arthritic joints to save money”.
The Daily Mail left health until page 17, reporting the findings from an NHS West Midlands investigation into the deaths of 21 babies, saying they “may have been caused by substandard NHS maternity care”.