SUMMIT COSTS

Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 8

The protests planned for this week's G8 summit at Gleneagles could land the NHS with a£1.5m bill, HSJ can reveal.

The Scottish Ambulance Service alone expects its services to cost£1m while NHS Lothian - which covers Edinburgh, where much of the action will take place - is anticipating costs of at least£200m. These will include mini-treatment centres along the route of Saturday's Make Poverty History march, which is expected to attract up to 200,000 people.

The Scottish Executive has said that NHS boards can submit details of the costs, but has made no definite commitment to reimburse them.

Almost all the mainland NHS boards in Scotland have been involved in planning for the G8 conference.

Protesters are expected to gather at Gleneagles and Bob Geldof has called for a million people to march on Edinburgh on 6 July. Protests are also likely in Edinburgh on 4 July and others are expected at the Faslane nuclear submarine base and at Dungavel detention centre for asylum seekers.

Carol Fraser, nurse consultant in health protection with NHS Lothian, hoped the Scottish Executive would cover its anticipated£200,000 bill.

While no operations have been cancelled, planners have ensured the elective workload is lighter than usual in case of emergencies. In line with Health and Safety Executive guidance, 12 nurses, six doctors and 80 first-aiders will be stationed along the route of the march and staffing will be increased at Lothian's A&E and minor injury departments.

'I am sure [Mr Geldof's] goals are honourable but there are always consequences, ' said Ms Fraser. 'We have to think about the health needs.' Gleneagles itself comes under NHS Tayside. A spokeswoman confirmed that an extra GP and nursing staff would be working at the nearest medical centre, in Auchertarder.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said: 'No commitment has been made that extra funding will be made available.'