By Anne North
Cornwall’s tourism bosses have warned local health chiefs to expect 210,000 visitors per day this summer, an increase of 15% on last year.
The resident population of Cornwall is around 570,000 and so the additional strain on resources will be 37%. The invasion of tourists accelerated on Friday, with 50-mile queues on the M5 and motorists facing two-hour delays.
The South West Ambulance Service Trust, which was already struggling to meet demand, this morning (Sunday) declared a “critical incident due to extreme pressures on our service.” A spokesperson warned patients to expect delays in responding to incidents.
A report to the NHS Kernow clinical commissioning group, to be considered on Tuesday (1st June), warns: “Our system is preparing for a summer like no other, with many people expected to holiday in the UK, rather than travel abroad. Visit Cornwall anticipates up to 210,000 visitors a day during the summer – an increase of 15%.”
A key concern is the risk of Covid transmission, as “virus refugees” flee hot-spot towns. Cornwall Council has said it will continue to employ “Covid marshals” in a bid to encourage social distancing.
Last year an official government report from the Joint Bio Security Centre, marked “sensitive” and not immediately published, warned: “Cornwall is likely at high risk compared to other areas due to the amount of tourism that it receives, and the amount of critical care capacity it has in the NHS Kernow CCG.
Ambulances queue at the Royal Cornwall Hospital (Pic: ITV)
“Most residents of Cornwall live in small coastal and rural villages and towns, it is likely that during the summer months the population increases with tourists entering these small towns. There is an increased likelihood of transmission due to a higher density of people in these small towns.”
Last year Cornwall’s health chiefs begged tourists to call their own GP if they felt unwell, rather than place additional strain on local hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.