Instant Opinion

‘A more balanced lifestyle for GPs leaves patients waiting longer for a diagnosis’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

1

Jill Kirby in The Telegraph

GPs are merely at the vanguard of the new war against work

on accessing care

“Welcome to the new world of work: part-time, flexible hours, working from home, yet with a wage packet big enough to support your lifestyle,” writes Jill Kirby in The Telegraph. But what the advocates of “the war on full-time work” don’t acknowledge is that “someone has to pay the price for this flexibility” – as has become “painfully apparent” when trying to visit a GP. The average GP is working “a three-day week” and yet average pay has risen to more than £100,000 a year. “Even before the pandemic, patients were struggling to get appointments,” writes Kirby. Ultimately, “a more ‘balanced’ lifestyle for a doctor can mean a patient waiting longer for a diagnosis”.

2

Daniel Trilling in The Guardian

Britain is learning the hard way that migration can’t be turned on or off like a tap

on labour shortages

“The Conservatives are trying to draw a new dividing line in British politics: wages versus immigration,” writes Daniel Trilling in The Guardian. “Yet to frame the debate in this way gives the false impression that migration is something that can be turned on and off like a tap,” he continues. And “Britain is currently discovering that immigration is as much a question of human relationships as it is of economic need”. EU workers’ “lack of enthusiasm” for the new HGV driver visa scheme “was greeted with a fair deal of surprise in the Westminster bubble, but it really shouldn’t have been”, Trilling writes. “In British debates about immigration, it is often assumed that people from less wealthy countries would jump at the chance to come to the UK,” yet it is now clear that “this isn’t always the case”.

3

Constanze Stelzenmuller in the Financial Times

The world won’t wait for Germany’s coalition negotiators

on fraught negotiations

“What direction will Berlin’s foreign and security policy take in a post-Merkel era?” asks Constanze Stelzenmuller in the Financial Times. “Allies, neighbours and competitors are all no doubt anxious for phone calls from Germany’s next government,” she writes, and “one can almost hear” caretaker Chancellor Angela Merkel “drumming her fingers on her desk”. Can a “traffic light” coalition of SPD, Greens and FDP “rise to these challenges” the country faces both domestically and abroad? While the negotiations to form the next government play out “one thing, meanwhile, is certain”, writes Stelzenmuller – “the world will not wait for Germany’s next government”. 

4

Victoria Richards in The Independent

Lego has the right idea in removing gender bias – there’s no such thing as ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ toys

on changing behaviours

“News that Lego has pledged to make its toys free from gender bias after global research found children remain held back by embedded gender stereotypes could not be more welcome,” writes Victoria Richards in The Independent. Lego aside, “why is it that retailers insist on reinforcing the so-called gender split?” Perhaps some of the answers lie in “our own behaviours”, she writes. “Take a moment to answer this question: when you’re looking for a child’s present online, do you ever write ‘gifts for girls’ or ‘gifts for boys’?” The fact is “I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve (probably) all done it – especially when we’re feeling time-poor and lost for inspiration”. But big brands often divide products by gender “because it increases sales”, writes Richards, meaning “they only do it because we are searching for it”. Perhaps the answer to combating “gender reinforcement” lies with us, she says: “to stop it, we simply need to stop seeking it out”.

5

William Hague in The Times

We must stop being slaves to the algorithm

on reimagining social media

“Today, when we have more potential sources of information than ever in human history, steadily more people are led to a narrower view of the world by social media algorithms that keep them hooked and engaged by feeding them more of what they already think,” writes William Hague in The Times. “Millions of people no longer see the evidence of what they do not wish to believe,” he writes, and if they do “revise their opinion at all, it is in a more radical direction”. These are algorithms designed to serve “a particular way of doing business” where “the user and their data are the products”, he writes. “But they could be redesigned to serve a free, educated and democratic society,” he argues. Algorithms could be redesigned to “expose people to varied views and place higher value on evidence and truth” rather than keep us “checking, swiping, following, liking and rating for fear of being excluded”.

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