Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 17:32 GMT


Cornish women told to put family plans on hold

Solar eclipse: dark times for anybody trying to get to hospital

Women in Cornwall are being warned to avoid getting pregnant in November - so they don't give birth in the middle of next year's solar eclipse.

Dr Matthew Stead on the danger facing Cornwall
Doctors are worried that the county will become gridlocked by the huge influx of people coming to see the eclipse in August.

And that may mean women in labour will be unable to get to hospital.

Dr Matthew Stead, a GP from Bodmin, said concerns about the impact on health services had been raised in a circular sent out to GPs in the county.

Dr Stead said: "If I was doing something that means you are likely to be in hospital on August 11 next year, I would think twice about doing it.

"I am quite seriously concerned that we could have a major disaster on our hands if we get the numbers of people that are predicted visiting the county for the eclipse."

Gridlock possible

[ image: Treliske Hospital: may be inaccessible next August]
Treliske Hospital: may be inaccessible next August
Dr Stead said it was predicted that if more than 600,000 visitors descended on the country, the roads would be gridlocked.

He said: "We are very concerned that we are going to be faced with a lot of severe traffic congestion, a large number of people living in tents who are going to need medical care and a much larger static population for a week than we are used to.

"Potentially with the eclipse we are going to be faced with a major, major influx and we are really not capable of looking after that.

"If some of the predictions come true there won't be enough water, there won't be enough food, there won't be enough medicines andd the whole thing could start to go pear-shaped."

Dr Stead said local GPs were already in discussions with local police, ambulance workers and health authority officials about how best to deal with the problem.

He said GPs were planning not to take holiday next August. It was also possible that all routine appointments would be scrapped around August 11, so that GPs could devote all their time to dealing with emergencies.

Dr Stead advised eclipse seekers to stay away from the county, the only place in Britain where it will be possible to see a 100% eclipse of the sun.

Large parts of the country should be able to see a 98% eclipse.

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

Health Contents

Background Briefings
Medical notes

Relevant Stories

11 Aug 98 | Sci/Tech
Total eclipse will bring chaos to Cornwall

08 Jul 98 | Sci/Tech
Millions to descend on Cornwall for solar eclipse

25 Feb 98 | Sci/Tech
Historic solar eclipse nears

Internet Links


National Childbirth Trust

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Disability in depth

Spotlight: Bristol inquiry

Antibiotics: A fading wonder

Mental health: An overview

Alternative medicine: A growth industry

The meningitis files

Long-term care: A special report

Aids up close

From cradle to grave

NHS reforms: A guide

NHS Performance 1999

From Special Report
NHS in crisis: Special report

British Medical Association conference '99

Royal College of Nursing conference '99