UK newspaper review: GP service shake-up dominates

A shake-up of GP services makes it on to a couple of broadsheet front pages, with the Daily Telegraph hailing the return of "proper family doctors".

It says Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has thrashed out a deal to stop GPs opting out of providing out-of-hours coverage, while the Times reports that doctors will also be forced to reveal their pay in order to help patients judge whether they offer value for money.

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Media captionPolitical journalists Sam Coates and Andrew Sparrow discuss Friday's papers for the BBC News Channel.

Mr Hunt writes in the Daily Mail to explain why he's "ripping up Labour's old GP contract", which he blames for causing 90% of practices to stop providing out-of-hours care and leaving people feeling they have "no choice" but to go to casualty - piling pressure on hospitals.

But Guardian political correspondent Andrew Sparrow, reviewing the papers for the BBC News Channel, said: "This might make a difference in the long run but it won't affect the pictures we see of ambulances queuing outside A&E over the winter if it gets really bad."

His co-panellist Sam Coates, deputy political editor of The Times, said the British Medical Association might not agree with Mr Hunt's interpretation of the deal: "I would expect quite a row [on Friday], including the BMA saying 'we're not quite sure that we agreed to go that far'."

The changes win approval from the Sun. However, its leader notes that heart attack victims are too often alongside patients "with a cold or earache" in casualty. "Britain needs to toughen up," it declares.

Horse on the menu?

While a beaming Prince Charles enjoys a slice of 65th birthday cake on many front pages, the Princess Royal contemplates a very different menu.

"Let them eat horse," is how the Times describes Princess Anne's suggestion that a market for horsemeat might reduce the number of equine neglect cases, noting that she is "one of Britain's best-known horse lovers".

The Daily Mirror is a little more blunt.

"Royal in meat shock," screams its front page, quoting campaign group Animal Aid's description of the suggestion as "idiotic".

The paper notes how the nation is "still reeling from the shock of being sold dodgy burgers".

Despite that, the Mirror thinks TV fans will be disappointed to learn that witchetty grubs are off the I'm a Celebrity... menu.

It says producers are desperately searching for other dishes to sit alongside delicacies such as fish eyeballs and kangaroo anus, after wet weather caused a shortage of the moth larvae.

Commonwealth questions

More unpalatable for the Independent is Sri Lanka hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, and David Cameron's decision to travel to Colombo despite war crimes allegations against its government.

The paper devotes much of its first five pages to the issue, its editorial arguing that Sri Lanka's "appalling human rights record raises questions about the legitimacy of the Commonwealth itself". Its cartoon pictures the prime minister - peg on nose, with "for hire" written on his eyeballs - extending a gloved hand towards a blood-stained counterpart.

Bob, in the Telegraph, draws Mr Cameron sitting around the summit table with Prince Charles, who's also attending the meeting. The prince, ready to cut his birthday cake, gestures at the Sri Lankan president across the table and whispers to the PM: "Do you think he'd like some?"

Satirical artists might not be so free in Sri Lanka, as the Guardian's Jason Burke notes in analysing the nation's "fractured paradise". Pointing out the alleged abductions of scores of government critics, he remembers the disappearance of cartoonist - Prageeth Eknaligoda - two days before the 2010 presidential poll.

Christmas is coming

Two weeks before opening the first window on the advent calendar, the Times reports on an early festive row.

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal reckons beef dripping makes better roast potatoes than goose fat, contradicting the advice of Mary Berry and Nigella Lawson, it reports.

Blumenthal hasn't always been such a dripping evangelist, the paper suggests, saying "only a cynic" would put his U-turn down to a contract with a supermarket that uses beef fat. Food and drink editor Tony Turnbull pours more oil on the hot fat by saying both are "equally good".

Meanwhile, the Mail enjoys spotting a rival supermarket's Christmas pudding in Sainsbury's new advert, a montage of home video footage showing people preparing for the festive season. Apparently, a Co-op pudding can be seen in-shot and, unsurprisingly, the chain is delighted. "It certainly gave us a chuckle," a spokesman is quoted as saying.

But there's less merry news in the Telegraph, which reports that rising energy costs have driven some British poinsettia growers out of business. The plants are costly to grow, needing carefully controlled temperatures of 15-20C (59-68F), it says, and shops are plugging the gap with weaker-stemmed imports.

University challenges

Police have been trying to spy on student activists at Cambridge University, the Guardian claims. It says it's obtained hidden camera footage showing an officer trying to recruit a twenty-something as an informant to gather names and vehicle registrations of students travelling to protests, claiming that "things they discuss can have an impact on community issues".

Image caption Oxford is reportedly weeding out the "rich but thick"

The National Union of Students has hit out at "questionable tactics" of the police, who are quoted by the Telegraph as saying they gather evidence in accordance with the law to prevent crime.

At Oxford, meanwhile, it's students who are the subject of complaints. Members of a drinking society have been branded "repugnant and sexist" for inviting girls to dress up as foxes and take part in a pub crawl in which their challenge is to "evade mauling" by downing a variety of drinks, reports the Mail. It quotes St Hugh's College principal as saying she's "utterly appalled" at the Fox Hunt event.

A female first-year calls it a "sexist embarrassment", reports the Telegraph. It quotes an anonymous tweeter complaining about people trying to stop anyone having fun and adding: "It's not like the girls have to turn up."

Nonetheless, they all made it to the university. Oxford's head of admissions is quoted by the Times as saying his job is to weed out "thick and rich" candidates who give polished interview performances but don't have the substance to back things up.