Newspaper headlines: 'Fears for sick' and PM's 'silence' over strike – BBC

The fallout from two consecutive days of NHS strike action preoccupies the front pages. The Daily Mirror accuses the government of "crippling" the health service by responding to demands for pay negotiations with a "deadly silence." Under photos of a smiling Rishi Sunak and the Health Secretary Steve Barclay the paper accuses ministers of prolonging the walkouts by refusing to "talk pay" with ambulance crews and nurses.
There is also a picture of Mr Sunak on the front of the Daily Star under the headline "missing." "As the whole country goes on strike and our NHS crumbles before our very eyes, we seem to have lost our prime minister," it says. It asks anyone who spots Mr Sunak to tell him that now would be a good time to "pull his finger out and fix things".
The Guardian's political editor Pippa Crerar says it seems Mr Sunak is trying to use the strikes as an opportunity to prove his detractors wrong by facing down the unions to show he is not weak. But she writes with more than 1.5 million workers balloting for strike action this winter, it is proving to be a "risky strategy".
Fears that thousands of people are unwell and struggling at home after giving up on calling an ambulance on Wednesday are reported in the Daily Express. It says those who have delayed seeking treatment could "overwhelm" the health service in the coming days. The Times agrees that hospitals are "braced" for an "extremely tough" festive season, as demand rebounds after the strikes. According to the paper, a number of hospital trusts in London suspended their home birth services during this week's walkout. Pregnant women are being warned that in the event of complications, there is no guarantee a paramedic will arrive in time, even now the strike has ended.
There is a suggestion in the Daily Telegraph that striking NHS workers will be offered a "fast-tracked" pay deal next year in an effort to break the deadlock. Sources close to the health secretary have told the paper he is keen to "speed up the process" of giving NHS staff a pay rise. Workers typically have to wait until August to receive a backdated increase. But the paper says Mr Barclay wants more money added to pay packets "at the earliest opportunity".
Like several other papers, the Daily Mail has a front page picture of Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky meeting US President Joe Biden at the White House. The caption describes him as "the man of the year." The Times says Washington "rolled out the red carpet" for Mr Zelensky, giving him a "hero's welcome". For the Telegraph, it was the Ukrainian president's "Churchill moment" – his speech to Congress echoing the wartime leader's Christmas address in 1941.
Finally, the Times describes new research suggesting people who struggle to meet NHS guidelines on daily exercise look to a Monty Python sketch for inspiration. Scientists from Arizona State University found that channelling John Cleese in the Ministry of Silly Walks counts as "vigorous physical activity". Participants in the study who copied his walk for 11 minutes a day enjoyed clear health benefits, and burned an extra 100 calories.
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