Morning Call: pick of the papers

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

1. Only a peace conference, not air strikes, can stop further bloodshed (Independent)

The US and Russia should force their respective allies to at least agree to a ceasefire, writes Patrick Cockburn.

2. The hand-wringing has to stop. We must act (Times)

If we do not intervene to support freedom and democracy in Egypt and Syria, the Middle East faces catastrophe, says Tony Blair.

3. America’s Middle East alliances are cracking (Financial Times)

Policy rested on five crucial players but these are pulling in different directions, says Gideon Rachman.

4. Immature advisers, moral indignation and the folly of wading into this bloody morass (Daily Mail)

Unfortunately, for the cause of justice and truth, loose talk about morality is a luxury grown-up governments cannot often afford to indulge, writes Max Hastings. 

5. Don't bet against Ed Miliband doing a Mo Farah in 2015 (Guardian)

Middle East in turmoil, two key referendums and a fragile recovery mean Ed can still go for gold at the next election, writes Jackie Ashley.

6. Living standards - too big an issue for politics (Financial Times)

Westminster struggles with the reality that wage stagnation is not a peculiarly British difficulty, writes Janan Ganesh.

7. By crossing Obama’s red line, Assad has forced the US to act (Daily Telegraph)

For the world’s good, America’s credibility as a superpower must be maintained, writes David Blair.

8. None of the experts saw India's debt bubble coming. Sound familiar? (Guardian)

India's economic problems reflect a global boom-to-bust pattern, writes Jayati Ghosh. Why do policymakers act surprised?

9. The Right Track? (Times)

The government needs a more resilient case on the costs and benefits of HS2, says a Times editorial. 

10. Bric wall: A slowdown in emerging markets could threaten the global recovery (Independent)

A significant slump in the developing world would have knock-on effects, notes an Independent editorial.

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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.