Newspaper review: NHS 'revamp', Canada attacks, Wilko 'cured'

The new boss of NHS England's prescription for the future of the health service is mulled over in great detail by the papers.

The broadsheets tend to focus on the structural changes chief executive Simon Stevens has outlined, and his plea for extra money, while the tabloids look at plans to make English people thinner and healthier.

Calling Mr Stevens' blueprint a "radical plan", the Times says the NHS could be transformed, as family doctors "employ consultants and psychiatrists in their surgeries, hospitals will take over GP practices... and specialist care will be centralised".

But all this will come at a price, the paper adds, and Mr Stevens "plans to throw down the gauntlet to political leaders" after they "competed to promise rises in the NHS budget".

The Daily Telegraph crunches the numbers, saying that at the moment the health service has been ring-fenced from cuts, but needs an extra £8bn over the course of the next parliament, as well as reforms and "ambitious efficiency savings" to close a "£30bn funding black hole that would otherwise open up by 2021".

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The Daily Mail leads off on one of the report's fundamental points - a truism, perhaps - that "the key to keeping costs down in the NHS is to prevent people from having to go to hospital in the first place".

"Weight loss slush fund will pay workers who shed fat", says the Sun, suggesting "private firms would get taxpayers' cash to bribe staff to lose weight with cash, vouchers and competitions".

The Daily Mirror highlights the cost to the NHS of treating obesity - £5bn a year - but quotes one critic, Dr Clive Peedell, saying "it fails to address the long-term and crucial issue of keeping the weight off".

Nigel Edwards of the health research group The Nuffield Trust, writing in the Independent, sounds a warning to politicians who may be tempted to "announce eye-catching initiatives that sound good on the campaign trail but are impossible to enact", saying "we must have the courage to make it happen".

The Guardian's leader column urges its readers not to be "deceived by the dry managerialism" of Mr Stevens' Five Year Forward View. "The report envisages little short of revolution," says the editorial.

"Mr Stevens says the NHS has reached the point where there really is no choice. It is possible to deliver an efficient, viable health service. And this is what it will cost," the Guardian adds.


'Loss of innocence'

The pictures emerging from the Canadian capital Ottawa in the wake of Wednesday's shooting which killed a soldier drive much of the papers' coverage.

"The battle of Ottawa" is the Independent's front-page headline, beneath photographs of armed police at various points around the city.

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The attacker shot and killed the soldier who was guarding the National War Memorial, the paper reports, before he "raced into the parliament building, where witnesses said up to 50 shots were fired before he himself was shot dead by the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms".

"Terrified MPs had barricaded themselves in their rooms," reports the Sun, "as the gunman fired off shots through the buildings."

The Guardian says one MP tweeted that staff "owe their safety, even their lives" to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers - who normally plays only a ceremonial role in parliament.

Mr Vickers, a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, "had been responsible for protecting the Queen on visits", reports the Daily Mirror.

The killing came hours after Canada raised its terror threat level, the Daily Mail notes, and there were fears of a "co-ordinated terrorist attack" after a hit-and-run car crash involving a "radical Muslim" earlier in the week killed one soldier and injured another near Montreal.

Professor Anthony Glees of the University of Buckingham told the Daily Express: "I think it comes directly from the fact that this month Canada announced plans to join the US coalition fighting ISIS".

Some reports questioned the low-key nature of security around the Canadian Parliament, and the Times quotes Liberal Senator Jim Munson, speaking to the BBC, as saying: "Unlike you or the US, we don't have security outside with machine guns. We've lost our innocence as a nation."


Come back Linda Barker, Anna Ryder-Richardson and Handy Andy - the UK's home improvement stores need you.

"Homebase takes a hammering as DIY dies out" is the headline in the Times. The brushes-to-bidets shop has announced it is closing one in four of its branches, because, as the paper says, "the nation is losing the ability to carry out odd jobs".

A decade ago, says the Guardian, "DIY was prime-time TV" with shows like Changing Rooms (whose cast is pictured) "dispensing home makeover advice".

But customers in 2014 prefer to spend their time on leisure activities and shopping, reports the paper, citing research from retail gurus Mintel. The firm's John Mercer tells it "DIY has fallen out of fashion and it's unlikely to reach those peaks again".


Claws into Woolf

The Daily Mail runs a picture on its front page which appears to focus on former BBC TV newsreader Martyn Lewis, and so at first it is not clear what this has to do with Fiona Woolf, the lawyer (and Lord Mayor of London) appointed by the government to chair a public inquiry into child abuse.

Looking closer, and with reference to the picture caption, the Mail informs its readers that the woman to the left of the photo is Mrs Woolf. The woman to the right is Lady Brittan, wife of former Conservative Home Secretary Lord (Leon) Brittan.

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It is the association between the two women, and the fact the shot was taken in 2013, which the Mail says will put pressure on Mrs Woolf to resign.

This, the Guardian reports, is because Lord Brittan was in office at the time a dossier about "alleged Westminster paedophiles went missing from his department".

The former home secretary, says the Times, "has strongly denied claims that he failed to act" on the dossier in the 1980s.

While the Guardian says Lord Brittan may be called to give evidence to the child abuse inquiry - and so could represent a conflict of interests - Mrs Woolf has already told MPs and the current Home Secretary, Theresa May, of her social connections with the Brittans.

In a letter, quoted by the Daily Mirror, Mrs Woolf says "I have had no social contact with Lady Brittan since 23 April 2013 and have not spoken to either of them in person or by telephone since".

Yet the Mirror and the Mail highlight the fact the picture of Mrs Woolf, Lady Brittan and Mr Lewis was taken in October 2013.

The Daily Mail in particular points out Mrs Woolf told MPs this week she had "'gone the extra distance' to produce an exhaustive list of contacts".

A Home Office source told the Mail that Mrs Woolf's failure to disclose the October meeting was a "minor omission".

In its leader column, the Independent points out this is the second time there has been a row over the appointment of a chairman to the inquiry, as the first appointee Baroness Butler-Sloss stepped down after victims' families expressed concerns about her independence.

Further into the paper, the Independent's founding editor Andreas Whittam Smith argues Mrs Woolf will "like Lady Butler-Sloss... come to see she is in a no-win situation and withdraw".

But the Times has had enough of the "witch-hunt" against Mrs Woolf. In an editorial, the paper says she is "independent-minded and capable". "The hounding should end and Fiona Woolf should now be allowed to get on with the job," the paper concludes.


Any chance the 'UKIP calypso' had of storming the singles chart and potentially giving the BBC another moment to rival the furore over Ding Dong The Wicked Witch Is Dead has passed, after ex-Radio 1 DJ Mike Read withdrew the song he had written after being accused of racism.

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"Furious critics claimed the track, which was number 21 in the mid-week chart was racist," writes the Sun, because of its references to "illegal immigrants in every town".

Read had initially defended the song, notes the Times, and his decision to sing it in a faux-Jamaican accent.

"However in a statement yesterday [Wednesday] he said that he wanted to 'unreservedly apologise' to anyone who had been upset by it," reports the Times.

The Independent says UKIP blamed "synthetic outrage" for Read's decision to pull the plug, "accusing 'right-on' critics of depriving a charity of cash to help the fight against Ebola".


Wilko 'cured'

Several papers report on the announcement made by rock musician Wilko Johnson that he has been "cured" of the pancreatic cancer he was diagnosed with in January 2013.

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The Independent says the 67-year-old guitarist, best-known for playing with the band Dr Feelgood, told those assembled at the Q Awards in London he had undergone an 11-hour operation in which a 3kg tumour "the size of a baby" was removed.

According to the Daily Mirror, tests by medical staff at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge discovered the tumour "turned out not to be as aggressive as first thought and he had surgery in May".

Johnson's operation also involved the removal of his pancreas, spleen, part of his stomach, small and large intestines and the removal and reconstruction of blood vessels relating to the liver.

"Anyway, they got it all. They cured me," Johnson is reported as saying.

The Sun reminds its readers that the rocker "played a series of farewell gigs" and said in January he had "10 months to live after refusing chemotherapy for cancer in his stomach, intestines and pancreas".

"The moral of this is," the Guardian quotes Johnson saying, "is you never know what's going to happen."


Making them click

The Guardian - Ottawa thrown into turmoil after shooting claims soldier's life

Daily Mail - Pictured: Soldier, 24, shot dead by Muslim convert Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who opened fire on Canadian Parliament in terrifying attack that left capital on lockdown

Daily Telegraph - Mario Balotelli to be fined by Liverpool for swapping shirts at half-time against Real Madrid

The Times - Renée Zellweger has been found guilty of trying too hard

The Independent - Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery reports: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'

Daily Mirror - You will never guess what was pulled out of this man's ear with a pair of tweezers