Newspaper headlines: Economic growth blow, Osborne 'savaged' and lorry grief

There's "not much seasonal cheer" in growth figures suggesting the UK economy is not performing as well as previously thought, according to Financial Times sources.

The paper hears from one economist who says the third-quarter data suggests there is "no way" the country will hit the government's 3% growth forecast for the year. "The UK setback came only a month after the chancellor told MPs the country was on track to be the 'fastest growing of any major advanced economy'," the paper says, while noting that the US economy grew by an annual rate of 5% over the same period.

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For the Guardian, the figures dealt a blow to the Conservatives' strategy of using a strengthening economy as the "springboard" for general election victory. It says: "Data from the [Office for National Statistics] added spice to the political battle over economic competence when it said gross domestic product per head - one measure of living standards - was rising but the 0.6% increase in the third quarter still left the measure 1.8% below its pre-recession peak."

Net national disposable income also remained flat, the paper adds. Telegraph cartoonist Adams offers his take on the situation, picturing Chancellor George Osborne revealing a tiny turkey from under an enormous silver serving dish engraved "the economy". Meanwhile, the Daily Mirror quotes former Bank of England economist David Blanchflower saying the figures make Mr Osborne "look like a buffoon".

However, the Telegraph's editorial argues that the downward revision is due "not to any inadequacies in Mr Osborne's strategy, but to the stubborn failure of the eurozone" as the UK's chief trading partner. It says the recovery overseen by the coalition will still ensure "there will be that much more in Father Christmas's sack for us all".

Despite that, the Independent reports that Mr Osborne has been "savaged" by his closest ally in the coalition over the Conservatives' plans for spending cuts. Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, is quoted saying £60bn of them are unnecessary: "The Tory agenda to keep reducing public spending beyond what is necessary would result in the wilful destruction of important parts of our public services. That is not appropriate or right for this country."


'Pall of grief'

Photographs of those killed when a lorry careered out of control on to a Glasgow pavement appear on many front pages.

Many focus on the deaths of Erin McQuade, 18, and her grandparents Jack and Lorraine Sweeney, with the Daily Mirror hearing from a family friend who says Erin's mother avoided the incident because she had stopped to use a cashpoint. "No one can imagine what she and her family are going through. It's too horrific to contemplate," the source is quoted as saying."

The Daily Mail recounts the tale of Glasgow Evening Times reporter Catriona Stewart, who says she spent about 40 minutes with an injured woman while two casualties on either side died. "I worried I would be able to provide little help but comfort," she says. "However, fortunately, she came to. I wonder if she will remember me and I hope she doesn't."

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Others capture the sombre mood of the city in the aftermath. "Once more, the fragility of our mortality has been exposed in a hellish instant. Again, a city can't quite take in the tragedy that has befallen it," writes the Sun's Bill Leckie, who describes the atmosphere around George Square. "Crowds still packed the precinct but with their volume turned down to almost nothing. In Royal Exchange Square, that eerieness made you aware of every footfall," he writes.

Says Mike Wade, in the Times: "The silence of the city told its own story... Under this pall of grief, people arrived in a steady stream. Piles of flowers lay at almost every path to Queen Street railway station."


'Deepening crisis'

NHS services are once again under the microscope, with the Daily Mail describing a "deepening crisis". It says hospital patients are routinely waiting for 12 hours on trolleys, while some "overwhelmed" GPs are spending just two minutes on consultations. The paper quotes London Mayor Boris Johnson advising people to take taxis to casualty, rather than waiting for an ambulance.

The Mail also says almost 2,000 readers commented on Tuesday's front-page image of a queue outside a GP practice at dawn. It quotes some of them blaming authorities for not planning for a population increase, others describing being unable to contact their surgery by phone, and one suggesting: "Most of those [patients] probably don't really need to be there - they should be visiting their local pharmacy."

The Telegraph says it's seen a letter signed by more than 300 senior consultants and hospital managers protesting about changes to funding for specialised treatment - such as cancer and heart disease - in hospitals. They warn that cuts could lead to "avoidable deaths", the paper says.

Meanwhile, the Daily Express reports that one regional ambulance service is trying to recruit more than 200 paramedics from Poland because of a national shortage of staff. "In the past decade the number of incidents attended by ambulances has rocketed due to population growth, the decline of out-of-hours NHS services and an ageing population," complains the paper. "Given these factors it should have been obvious that our ambulances were going to come under pressure and that training paramedics was a priority."

With A&E departments reportedly feeling the strain, the Daily Mirror reports that more than 50,000 frail and elderly people blocked hospital beds for a total of nearly a million days last year while waiting to be admitted to a nursing home or for home care measures to be put in place. It is, says the paper, "both cruel and a scandalous waste".

And the Times quotes from a report suggesting that thousands of patients are killed or injured each year because of mistakes caused by the poor design of drugs packets and confusing medical equipment. "Look-alike, sound-alike" medication can make it easy for rushed staff to give patients the wrong drugs, while medical equipment varies between hospitals, the report says.


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