Covid vaccine: NHS Lothian come under pressure to fix appointment rescheduling failure

NHS Lothian have come under pressure to fix a major problem with vaccine appointments, after people have been unable to reschedule online or over the phone for weeks.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 11:23 am
Updated Friday, 2nd July 2021, 12:37 pm

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Several people contacted the Evening News to report that they were unable to reschedule their appointments for the last few weeks.

But after trying online and calling the national helpline they were told to call back in a week or two, as no appointments could be changed due to a ‘major IT problem’ with NHS Lothian

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People have reported being unable to reschedule for a number of weeks
People have reported being unable to reschedule for a number of weeks

The health board said they would increase appointments to meet demand, after surge in calls from people trying to change their appointment ahead of the summer holidays.

Politicians have called for the Government to step in amid fears over resulting wasted appointments, while case numbers in the city continue to rise.

On Thursday the only appointments available to book online in NHS Lothian were at a vaccine centre in Haddington.

The recent spike in the capital saw the weekly rate jump to 582 cases per 100,000 people but Edinburgh has the lowest vaccination rate in the country.

Christine Jardine said appointment issue was 'distressing' for people

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Paul Bradley from Edinburgh said: “I’ve tried every day to reschedule my second appointment. But nothing is available online. When I called the helpline they told me to call back in a week or two. They said it was down to a major IT problem in Lothian. I’m scared to cancel the appointment in case I get knocked off the system.

"I can’t make it but don’t want to be a no show. There’s no benefit to me cancelling because nobody else can book that slot. They said my best option is to keep checking but I’ve looked all week and there’s no evidence of anything being available. I will be away visiting family so just have to hope drop-in is still an option when I get back. It’s stressful. I just want to be able to get the vaccine.”

Christine Jardine MP said: "This is distressing for people who are having problems re-scheduling appointments.

"The Government needs to step in to ensure that the system works, reassure about supply and that there are enough vaccinators to keep the roll-out working."

Miles Briggs MSP said: “There has been growing concerns for some time about the delivery of the vaccine programme in Lothians.

“It’s unacceptable that people are not being able to change appointments as well as the levels of missed appointments and sessions not being fully utilised.

“As we reach a critical stage in the vaccination programme it is important we have more flexibility and additional drop-in vaccination clinics.”

Pat Wynne, Director of Community Nursing, NHS Lothian, said: “There has been a sharp rise in the number of people phoning to rebook appointments, driven in part by the approach of the holiday season. Scheduled appointment capacity is being increased to accommodate this demand.

“All of our mass vaccination centres now offer ‘walk in’ clinics to all over 18s for first and second doses. If you have a scheduled appointment that is not suitable we would encourage you to attend any one of these centres. Please remember to cancel your scheduled appointment if it doesn’t suit and please remember your second dose can only be given if it is 8 weeks or more since your first dose.”

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