Morning Call: Pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

  1. We won't need a PC World NHS if more of us go private (Guardian)
    Those who can should unburden the health service, so it can act as the good, basic provider that Beveridge intended, writes Melissa Kite.
  2. Vince Cable is proving himself a master of hit-and-run politics (Telegraph)
    The Business Secretary's interventions on immigration and housing are part of a wider tactical game, writes Paul Goodman.
  3. The lobbying row has given David Cameron a very tricky dilemma (Guardian)
    As a lobbyist, I can see Lynton Crosby's attraction. But retaining him could cause the PM huge damage, writes Peter Bingle.
  4. Geeks in jeans are the Treasury’s new heroes (Times, £)
    A digital revolution, masterminded by a team of dress-down civil servants, could save the taxpayer billions, writes Rachel Sylvester.
  5. Advancing Internet freedom doesn’t come for free (Washington Post)
    Technology is not the only answer to advancing global democracy, but it is the most powerful and cost-efficient weapon currently at our disposal, writes Craig A. Newman.
  6. If gays aren’t hugged, everyone is stamped on (Times, £)
    The Pope has shown that he knows homosexual rights matter because they tell us how states deal with difference, writes Hugo Rifkind.
  7. UK should accept it is London-centred (Financial Times)
    The capital has not flourished because of favourable treatment, writes Janan Ganesh.
  8. Racism? It is not racist to ask people who are here illegally to leave Britain (Daily Mail)
    Our campaign targets illegal immigrants without any discrimination at all between them. By no stretch of the rational imagination can it be described as ‘racist’, argues the immigration minister Mark Harper.
  9. PR, an industry with a PR problem (Financial Times)
    One of its own protagonists is forecasting the death of the sector, writes Brian Groom.
  10. Where are the criminals? On their laptops (Telegraph)
    As online fraud soars, it’s good to remember the old adage: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, writes Philip Johnston.

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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The big problem for the NHS? Local government cuts

Even a U-Turn on planned cuts to the service itself will still leave the NHS under heavy pressure. 

38Degrees has uncovered a series of grisly plans for the NHS over the coming years. Among the highlights: severe cuts to frontline services at the Midland Metropolitan Hospital, including but limited to the closure of its Accident and Emergency department. Elsewhere, one of three hospitals in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland are to be shuttered, while there will be cuts to acute services in Suffolk and North East Essex.

These cuts come despite an additional £8bn annual cash injection into the NHS, characterised as the bare minimum needed by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England.

The cuts are outlined in draft sustainability and transformation plans (STP) that will be approved in October before kicking off a period of wider consultation.

The problem for the NHS is twofold: although its funding remains ringfenced, healthcare inflation means that in reality, the health service requires above-inflation increases to stand still. But the second, bigger problem aren’t cuts to the NHS but to the rest of government spending, particularly local government cuts.

That has seen more pressure on hospital beds as outpatients who require further non-emergency care have nowhere to go, increasing lifestyle problems as cash-strapped councils either close or increase prices at subsidised local authority gyms, build on green space to make the best out of Britain’s booming property market, and cut other corners to manage the growing backlog of devolved cuts.

All of which means even a bigger supply of cash for the NHS than the £8bn promised at the last election – even the bonanza pledged by Vote Leave in the referendum, in fact – will still find itself disappearing down the cracks left by cuts elsewhere. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.