Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hospitals go on high alert for Pope visit

Hospital staff across central Scotland will be placed on high alert next month for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fears over the pontiff’s health have led to every hospital on or near his route between Edinburgh and Glasgow being asked to make preparations.

The Vatican has been trying to play down fears for the 83-year-old.

But officials now say they are not prepared to have just one designated hospital – standard procedure on overseas visits.

Pope Benedict takes medication for a heart condition following a mild stroke in 1991.

A year later he suffered haemorrhaging after he cut his head in a fall, also believed to have been caused by a stroke.

Last December, traditional Christmas midnight Mass was held two hours earlier than scheduled because he was tired. The Pope also recently broke his wrist after slipping.

Concern has been raised that congestion on Glasgow’s Kingston Bridge could put his life at risk in an emergency.

The visit to the UK, from September 16-19, will be the Pope’s fourth overseas trip this year. He will meet the Queen in Edinburgh before coming to Glasgow to say Mass at Bellahouston Park.

A survey of more than 1000 adults across Scotland has found that 2% of Scots strongly object to the Pope’s visit, 3% object and some 63% are neither for nor against it.

SIC: GETUK

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