Monitor: The Sunday newspapers reflect on the state of the National Health Service

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The Independent Culture
THIS HAS been a disastrous week for the health service. The news has been full of horror stories of old people left in corridors, overflowing mortuaries and a chronic shortage of intensive care beds. Even the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, has had to admit there is a crisis. Sorting out the health service is a gigantic task. But at its root is one simple issue - nurses' pay.

Nurses are a special case, and must be treated as one. If not, still more will leave, and the health service will struggle from crisis to extinction.

If the health service is to survive, the nurses must get the money. Now.

Sunday Mirror

NO GOVERNMENT will ever solve the problems of health care provision once and for all: when one problem is solved, another will take its place. As the Haitian folk saying puts it: "Behind the mountains, are more mountains." It is customary in times of obvious privation in the NHS to call for greater expenditure. This is a myth. What is presented to the public as an unprecedented crisis in the health service is in fact little more than one of the inevitable small oscillations in the provision of health care to a population of 60 millions. That people are so easily panicked into believing that collapse is at hand, is the consequence of a lack of true perspective. The NHS is neither immaculate nor beyond redemption.

The Independent on Sunday

THE SUGGESTION that our NHS is starting to resemble that of a Third World country is ludicrous.

Britain provides some of the best free health care anywhere. From the local GP to the top surgeons, who specialise in heart transplants and cancer care, we lead the world.

Sunday People

LIKE THE welfare state itself, the NHS is implicated in a corruption of human values. It has created an entitlement culture, illustrated by people with flu ringing 999. Yet it also makes patients powerlessly beholden to professionals and bureaucrats.

(Melanie Phillips)

The Sunday Times