Life is Local: Erm, maybe the NHS is in crisis


Every week, millions of people rely on their local newspapers and websites to keep them informed of what is happening in their area. When seen together, they can paint a picture of life in the UK in a way no other collection of stories can. Life is local – and this is a look at the front pages which stood out over the last seven days

The New Year began with what is rapidly becoming a tradition – problems. in the NHS as winter prompted a rise in demand. Who’d have thunk it? The government’s decision to tell hospitals they could cancel all non-urgent operations in January prompted accusations of the NHS being in crisis.

“Oh no,” replied the government. “It’s not a crisis, because we planned for this to happen.”

But if it looks like a crisis, smells like a crisis, is felt to be a crisis by those involved, is it a crisis? Certainly a crisis-like problem made it on to the front pages of regional papers across the UK this week:

01 bradford nhs01 eadt01 nhs1 gazette nhs01 herlad nhs01 plymouth nhs01 stoke nhs01 westernmail nhs01 bpool gazette nhs01 btel nhs01 hartlepool nhs01 journal nhs 201 journal nhs1 lep nhs01 men nhs01 necho nhs01 necho nhs201 oxford nhs01 portsmouth nhs01 wolverhampton nhs01 wolverhampton nhs201 YEP nhs

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The challenge with reporting the NHS at a national level is that you can end up reporting on something which isn’t reflected in many parts of the UK, such is the peculiar nature of the management of the NHS – in theory devolved, but driven from the centre as well.

This is where the local Press comes into its own. But then, of course, there’s the balance between reporting problems in the NHS, and not being seen to be critical of NHS medics. This week, the Yorkshire Evening Post launched this campaign:

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It wasn’t the only campaign or appeal to make the front page in the first week of the year. The Sunderland Echo threw its weight behind a campaign to fund a holiday home for sick children in memory of inspirational Bradley Lowery:

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While the South Wales Argus called for help to get a local foodbank back on its feet:

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Back to health issues for a moment, and it doesn’t take a maybe-crisis in the NHS for health stories to make the front pages of local papers, as we all know:

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Celebrating the achievements of local people is what local journalism is at least in part about, and here are two very different examples of that making the front page, first with Stoke’s celebrations of Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor and second, from the Essex Chronicle highlighting one man’s campaign agains the council:

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Stories about companies moving out of town have become all too common in recent years, and in Norwich, the decision to move Colman’s Mustard production from the area was always going to be front page news:

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But, unusually, production will remain in the UK – it’s going to Burton, in Staffordshire, where the news was, not surprisingly, seen in a very different light!

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Here’s a very risk-free prediction for 2018: Council funding will make lots of front pages in the weeks and months to come. An early example from the Coventry Telegraph on how it could play out in regions with ‘metro mayors’ now:

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Which should in turn result in closer scrutiny of spending of public money (the BBC’s democracy reporter project makes this almost guaranteed):

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And here’s another sure-fire bet: This week won’t be the last time we see the weather making the front page:

01 wmn01 dorsetLets end with some upbeat news. Chip pan fires (or very similar in this case) can make great front page stories – especially when there’s a happy ending:

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And, well, this story is already well-known, but in case you hadn’t heard about the couple who inadvertently named their baby after a local paper … here’s the front page of that local newspaper:

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