Covid Scotland: NHS Lothian was not to blame for extensive delays at Edinburgh's biggest vaccination centre
NHS Lothian has apologised for delays which saw some people waiting to be vaccinated in queues for up to three hours at the Royal Highland Centre on Monday – blaming the issue on an administration error.
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But the Evening News can reveal it was the centralised umbrella body NHS Scotland which was responsible for the confusion – after it sent out hundreds of vaccine appointment letters in error.
Huge queues were seen winding all the way back to the car park as hundreds of people arrived to be vaccinated at the Ingliston vaccination centre.
This wasn’t the first time such scenes were reported at the Lowland Hall venue – which only opened on May 17 – as just two weeks ago hundreds of residents were left queuing for a similar length of time, with some people blaming “poor planning and management” by NHS Lothian for the bottleneck.
Following the latest delay, Lothian Tory MSP Sue Webber called for the health board to explain why the situation was allowed to happen again.
She said: “While I appreciate the vaccination programme is at a busy stage, after experiencing these issues last month at Ingliston, NHS Lothian should have put plans in place to prevent this from happening again.”
NHS Lothian responded by apologising for the wait people experienced, saying that it was due to an administrative error and was resolved by the afternoon.
But well-places sources within the Scottish Government – which replies to press queries about NHS Scotland – revealed that it was responsible for the blunder.
It operates fourteen territorial NHS boards across Scotland, seven special non-geographic health boards and NHS Health Scotland
The insider said: “The explanation is quite simple – too many letters were sent out in error. Whether this is a human error or one generated by a glitch in a computerised system has yet to be confirmed.
"NHS Lothian took some stick but it was not their fault. Their vaccination team responded magnificently on Monday after they were inundated with a vastly higher number of people than they were expecting.”
Following the debacle Pat Wynne, Nurse Director of Primary and Community Care, NHS Lothian, did not reveal which body was responsible.
Issuing an apology, he simply said: “We are now underway with our busiest week in our vaccination programme so far, with more than 80,000 people expected to attend appointments this week.
"We have also received additional support from the Army this week, which will allow us to vaccinate an extra 3,600 people per day.
“We are very sorry for the wait experienced by people attending the Royal Highland Showground on Monday which was due to an administrative error.
“When we realised a long queue was forming, our team took proactive measures to address the delay. This included deploying staff from other venues and providing bottled water for those waiting outside. By the afternoon the wait had been reduced to 10 minutes.
“The vast majority of patients were very understanding, and we received very few complaints. We would like to thank everyone for their patience.
"Everyone received their vital vaccine and the centre closed on time at 6.30pm.”
The Scottish Government was asked for comment on NHS Scotland’s role in the ‘administrative error’.