Hundreds of face-to-face GP appointments are cancelled or rescheduled in Glasgow in bid to slash traffic levels during Cop26 climate summit
- NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said virtual appointments will be offered
- A wider city plan aims to ‘substantially’ reduce road traffic while Cop26 runs
- Around 25,000 delegates and 125 world leaders will attend climate conference
- Glasgow will face multiple road closures and possible rail strikes during summit
- But the move has disappointed patients who have waited months to see their GP
Hundreds of face-to-face appointments with GPs have been cancelled or rescheduled by NHS bosses in a bid to slash traffic levels around Glasgow during Cop26, with the city facing multiple road closures and possible rail strikes.
The city is playing host to the climate conference, which runs for a fortnight from 31 October and is expected to attract 25,000 delegates and 125 world leaders.
Ahead of the conference, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said virtual and online consultations will be favoured over in-person appointments as a way of helping to ‘substantially’ reduce road traffic during this time.
Hundreds of patients are being offered virtual GP appointments ahead of Cop26 in a bid to slash traffic levels around Glasgow, which is also facing road closures and a possible rail strike
The summit is expected to attract 25,000 delegates, 125 world leaders and up to 100,000 protestors to Glasgow next month. Pictured: Supporters march in Brussels ahead of Cop26
The RMT union also plans to stage a rail strike over pay from 1 November to 12 November, causing potentially more disruption to those wanting to travel to Glasgow by public transport for Cop26.
In-person appointments will continue for cancer referrals and urgent care.
But Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour’s health and Covid recovery spokeswoman, said hundreds of patients – who have waited months to see their GP in-person because of the pandemic – would be disappointed by the move and called it a ‘recipe for disaster’.
Speaking to The Telegraph, she said: ‘This will come as a fresh blow to patients who have already been languishing on waiting lists for months.’
Elsewhere, health chiefs have expressed concern that Covid-19 infections in Glasgow will surge in the wake of hosting delegates arriving from all over the world and from countries with lower vaccination rates.
Preparations are underway at the Scottish Event Campus for the high-profile Cop26 summit
Up to 100,000 protesters, including from groups such as Extinction Rebellion, are also expected to descend on the Scottish city for the Global Day for Climate Justice, on 6 November.
Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian commented that there are ‘risks associated’ with the mass gatherings.
A spokesman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: ‘Ahead of Cop26, we are working closely with partners to ensure robust plans are in place to enable us to respond to demands for healthcare during the conference, which includes responding to the temporary increase in population.
‘All of our hospital facilities will remain open and operational throughout the conference.’
COP26, held at the the Scottish Event Campus, will be the highest-profile event ever staged in Scotland.
A huge security operation, codenamed Operation Urram, will involve 10,000 officers and 200 police dogs deployed each day, including officers on secondment from England.
Glasgow is expected to face disruption with multiple road closures in place during the summit
Specialist ‘protest removal’ squads will be ready to crack down on any illegal disruptions, with the Armed Forces and coastguard on alert for serious threats.
In addition to protests from the likes of Insulate Britain, Extinction Rebellion and Greenpeace, Glasgow faces more disruption from the sheer number of extra visitors, exacerbated by RMT union rail strikes and key road closures.
COP26 has been described as the ‘last best hope for the world to get its act together’ on climate change – but China’s President Xi Jinping and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin will not attend, delivering a blow to hopes of substantial progress.
The Queen is also expected to join Prince Charles and Prince William at a banquet for delegates on 1 November.